ISLAMABAD, (October 9, 2020): Bytes for All is shocked to receive the news of arbitrary blocking of social media platform TikTok in Pakistan by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on the pretext of vulgarity and indecency. This is an act of brutal censorship that is unacceptable in any democratic society. We strongly condemn this action by PTA, which is going to be detrimental to fundamental rights of the citizens including the right to freedom of expression, access to information, and economic and cultural rights of Pakistani citizens.

TikTok is known to be the most popular social media platform among common people in the country, especially the youth, who use it to express their artistic and political expression making it an alternative space for their aspirations, quality entertainment and creativity.

The platform provides its users the ability to pick and choose the content of their interest, however, moral policing by the State in an effort to control the cyberspace is totally uncalled for. At a time, when the country is going through socio-economic turmoil, adding such unnecessary hurdles and controls on the Internet is not going to benefit any sane purpose instead it will worsen the unemployment rate and frustration among the youth.

We wish to reiterate the fact that such blocking and filtering by the States has never worked in any country in the past and will be futile in Pakistan as well. The brilliant youth in the country will easily find circumvention tools to continue to access their favorite platform, however, this action by the government will only bring more embarrassment for the country.

We strongly urge the government to immediately lift the ban on TikTok unconditionally and refrain from any such actions or attempts to control the cyberspace, which in any case is impossible with the advent of new technologies.

We also urge the government to allow its people with choices and trust their judgement as it is done in democracies all around the world.