ISLAMABAD: Chinese social media giant TikTok issued a secret statement on Saturday calling for the lifting of the application ban in exchange for a vague security focused on the distribution of resources in the Pakistani market.
“If the Government of Pakistan decides to reopen access to our services in the future, we will certainly appreciate our resource allocation in this market,” the carefully crafted statement said.
According to some estimates, the app has been installed 43 million times in Pakistan, with 14.7 million of those coming in 2020 alone.
Last Monday application management said they had held a virtual meeting with Pakistani officials to iron out any changes and strengthen content moderation. But on Saturday management said no further response had been received from the government. The statement welcomed the creative energies brought by Pakistani users to the platform and said the company was prepared to invest further in Pakistan if differences could be resolved.
Management says no response received from the government since Monday
Our services remain blocked in the country and we have not received any communication from the Telecommunications Authority of Pakistan (PTA), the statement said.
That is why we are disappointed that our users and creators in Pakistan are still not able to access TikTok, more than a week after our services were blocked by the PTA, the press release said, adding that, the TikToks mission is to inspire creativity and joy, and that’s just what we did in Pakistan.
After TikTok was blocked in Pakistan, we continued to engage with the PTA to demonstrate our commitment to comply with local laws and further enhance our content moderation capacity. Although the PTA acknowledged and appreciated these efforts, our services remain blocked in the country and we have not received any communication from the PTA.
We continue to hope that our productive dialogue with the PTA can bring about the assurance of government commitment to a sustainable, potential environment through which we can explore further market investments, including the inspiring talent we have seen flourish at TikTok. .
Due to the ban, Pakistan’s vibrant online community was not yet able to show its talent and creativity to hundreds of millions of users worldwide; we hope to be able to reconnect with the energetic and talented youth of Pakistan and play our part in Pakistan’s success story, the statement added.
TikTok, which is owned by China-based company ByteDance, has about 20 million active users per month, making it the third most popular social media app in the country after Facebook and WhatsApp.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the information technology ministry reacted harshly to TikTok’s statement, saying that IT Minister Syed Aminul Haq had recently stated that the lifting of the ban lay in TikTok respecting local laws and not violating the nation’s traditions.
The spokesman said TikTok will be allowed to operate in Pakistan if it follows the rules and meets all regulatory requirements to the satisfaction of the government.
A senior PTA official said TikTok management was clearly conveyed during the virtual meeting that compliance with authorities’ instructions was essential.
The only issue is that TikTok is not providing a timeline for the results of the action it intends to take, the official said, adding that an application could not operate in a completely independent environment without any restrictions or respect for religious and social norms.
Website content must be safe from all threats; it must respect the feelings of communities and other parts of society, the official added.
TikTok had updated its community guidelines in September and also released its Urdu version following the PTAs’ final warning. But complaints from the telecom regulator continued to flow with controversial content being posted on the platform.
An appeal has also been lodged with the Islamabad High Court against the ban on the video sharing application by a private citizen who argues that his business has been badly affected by the ban.
Published in Agim, 18 October 2020
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