Islamabad: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has imposed an immediate ban on at least five online dating and live streaming applications, citing “immoral and indecent content” being promoted through their use in the country.
The PTA stated in a statement that it has blocked Tinder, Tagged, Skout, Grindr and SayHi apps, “keeping in view the negative effects of immoral/indecent content streaming through the above applications”.
“PTA issued notices to the management of the above mentioned platforms for the purpose of removing daring services and to moderate live streaming content in accordance with the local laws of Pakistan,” read PTA press release.
“Since the platform did not respond to the notices within the stipulated time period, the authority issued orders for blocking the said applications,” it added.
The PTA has maintained that it may reconsider blocking the said applications provided their company managements assure adherence to the local laws of moderating what it called ‘immoral content’ through meaningful engagements.
The decision has not gone down well with the digital rights groups, which have slammed the PTA for forcibly imposing their self-assessed moralities and policies on the adults of the country.
“If adults choose to be on an app, it is not for the state to dictate whether they should use it or not,” said Shahzad Ahmed, director of a digital rights group.
Terming PTA’s decision as “moral policing”, Ahmed said the ban is “completely ridiculous” as people would find ways to bypass the ban.
On the other hand, popular social media application Tinder has stated that it will be engaging with the Pakistani authorities to discuss and contemplate over the ban.
“We welcome the opportunity to discuss our product and moderation efforts with the PTA and look forward to a meaningful conversation,” read a statement issued by Tinder.
The decision to ban social media apps by PTA comes after it banned live streaming application BIGO LIVE and issued warning to video sharing application service TikTok over what it claimed to be immoral, vulgar and obscene content.
Earlier, the PTA had also banned online game Player Unknown’s Battle Ground (PUBG) in June 2020 citing several complaints from locals, who said that the game was addictive, waste of time and had potential negative impact on children’s physical and psychological health.
However, the ban was later lifted after PUBG issued assurances to the PTA over the content and usage of the game.