Pakistan on Monday banned Chinese live-streaming app Bigo and issued “final warning” to short video app TikTok over “obscene” and “immoral” content on these platforms. The “final warning” means that the Bytedance-owned app will have to put in place a “comprehensive mechanism to control obscenity, vulgarity and immorality” on its platform. We have reached out to Bigo and TikTok for comment.
The move comes just weeks after the country had temporarily banned popular gaming app PUBG, on July 1. Bigo and TikTok were among the 59 ‘Chinese’ applications banned in India last month over national security and privacy concerns (more on that below). Before being banned by the Indian government, TikTok was banned in India last year for over two weeks, on directions of the Madras High Court for allegedly promoting pornographic content and exposing children to sexual predators.
In a strongly-worded statement, the Pakistan Telecom Authority, the regulator which handed the ban to Bigo and the final warning to Tiktok, said that a “number of complaints had been received from different segments of the society against immoral, obscene and vulgar content on social media applications particularly TikTok and Bigo, and their extremely negative effects on the society in general and youth in particular”.
It said that it had also issued necessary notices to Bigo and TikTok to “moderate the socialization and content within legal and moral limits, in accordance with the laws of the country”. However, the response of these companies was not found to be “satisfactory”. The ban was issued under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, the country’s cybercrime law.
On the night of June 29, India had blocked access to TikTok, Bigo, Helo and 56 other platforms developed by Chinese companies as these apps were allegedly “engaged in activities which [were] prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. A day after that, the Bytedance owned apps in the list — TikTok, Vigo, and Helo — went missing from both Google and Apple’s app stores. Subsequently, the other apps were also removed.
The Indian Army, earlier this month, directed its personnel to delete at least 89 apps, ranging from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to Tinder, to even blogging sites like Reddit and “private blogs”. PUBG was also barred from use, and even apps developed by Indian companies, such as ShareChat, were banned.
Here’s what PTA’s order said:
PTA ISSUES FINAL WARNING TO TIK TOK AND BLOCKS BIGO APP
Number of complaints had been received from different segments of the society against immoral, obscene and vulgar content on social media applications particularly Tik Tok and Bigo, and their extremely negative effects on the society in general and youth in particular.
PTA had issued necessary notices to the aforementioned social media companies under law to moderate the socialization and content within legal and moral limits, in accordance with the laws of the country. However, the response of these companies has not been satisfactory.
Therefore, in exercise of its powers under PECA, PTA has decided to immediately block Bigo and issue final warning to Tik Tok to put in place a comprehensive mechanism to control obscenity, vulgarity and immorality through its social media application.