The news: Last week, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocked five popular mobile applications in the country. The banned apps provide online dating services and have been cited to stream ‘inappropriate’ and ‘immoral’ content, according to local authorities.
‘Immoral’ content: In addition to Tinder, one of the most popular dating apps in the world, four other apps have been banned by the PTA including Tagged, Skout, Grindr, and SayHi. Most of these apps allow users to view each other’s profiles, swipe right on the ones they like, connect with other users, and send text messages. According to the authorities, access to these applications has been blocked due to concerns about the negative effects of ‘indecent’ content that the users might see while streaming through these applications.
Warning notice: According to a statement, the PTA had previously issued notices to the management or owners of all five platforms. These notices inquired about the immoral content on their applications and asked them to remove any online dating services and monitor the live streaming content in order to ensure that it is in accordance with the local laws of Pakistan. The statement declared that none of the mentioned platforms responded to the request of moderating their content within the specified time. This resulted in a ban on these applications in Pakistan.
Reconsideration: The press release by PTA also states that the authority can reconsider the blocked access to these online platforms on the condition that their company managements ensure conformity with local laws by moderating the ‘immoral’ content on their applications and creating meaningful engagement. In response, a statement issued by Tinder said it would welcome the opportunity to discuss their application and moderation efforts with the PTA.
Banning spree: Rights activists have also spoken out against the recurring bans on various applications and websites, accusing the authorities of moral policing. The PTA recently asked video-sharing website YouTube to block access to ‘vulgar’, ‘immoral’, and nude content for its Pakistani users as well as videos that contain ‘hate speech’. It was demanded that the objectionable content be removed immediately and a content monitoring mechanism be put in place. The PTA has also issued warnings to, or banned, TikTok, Bigo Live, and PUBG.