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October 10, 2020

Indecent content: PTA blocks TikTok in Pakistan

Top Story

October 10, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Friday banned the TikTok application.

The ban is going to affect around 20 million active monthly users of the video application in Pakistan, as in July 2020 the company had reported this number of users in the country. In a statement, the PTA said in view of a number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral/indecent content on the video sharing application, it issued instructions for blocking the application.

Keeping in view the complaints and nature of content being posted on TikTok, the PTA issued a final notice to the application and gave considerable time to respond to and comply with the instructions for development of an effective mechanism for proactive moderation of unlawful online content.

However, the application failed to fully comply with the instructions after which the application was banned. TikTok has been informed that the authority is open for engagement and will review its decision subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the PTA said with reference to the taxes applied on recharge/reload of prepaid balance, the Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) were deducting only Withholding Tax and General Sales Tax/Federal Excise Duty on prepaid recharge/reload after restoration of taxes by the Supreme Court from April 2019.

On recharge of Rs200, the balance provided to the user is Rs177.778 (and not Rs152, as reported on the social media) after deduction of Rs22.222 against Withholding Tax @ 12.5%.

GST @19.5% is applied on per call, SMS, data usage basis or opting for any additional bundle /package. When a user consumes its remaining balance of Rs177.778, a total of Rs29.01 as GST is charged. In the same way, if a package is priced at Rs167 (without GST), the same, requires a prepaid balance of Rs199.56 (Price + GST = Rs167 + Rs32.56). Due to lack of clarity on deduction of GST in addition to WHT, mobile subscribers are assuming that CMOs are charging well above applicable taxes, which is not correct.

Furthermore, the PTA has fixed a ceiling on call setup charges @ Re0.15 per call. The PTA is vigilant about the rates/tariffs being charged by CMOs and action will be initiated on any reported incidence of charging above the published tariffs and applicable taxes in accordance with the law.