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October 18, 2020

TikTok vows to reconsider resources’ allocation in Pakistan

Business

October 18, 2020

KARACHI: Chinese video-sharing app TikTok on Saturday vowed to reconsider allocation of resources in Pakistan if the government lifts the ban on its services.

“If the government of Pakistan decides to reopen access to our services in the future, we will certainly assess our allocation of resources to this market,” the TikTok’s spokesperson said in a statement.

TikTok is uncertain about its future in Pakistan as it awaits a response from the regulator on the status of its ban in the country after complying with the local laws, its spokesperson said on Saturday. TikTok that has 20 million active monthly users in Pakistan said it’s made concerted efforts to address questions from the government around our content moderation process, including significantly increasing the capacity of our local language content moderation team.

“After TikTok was blocked in Pakistan, we continued to engage with the PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) to demonstrate our commitment to comply with local laws and further enhance our content moderation capacity,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Though the PTA acknowledged and appreciated these efforts, our services remain blocked in the country and we have received no communication from PTA.”

The spokesperson said Pakistan’s online community is still unable to showcase their talent and creativity to our hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

“We’re disappointed that our users and creators in Pakistan are still unable to access TikTok, more than one week after our services were blocked by the PTA,” said the spokesperson. “We continue to hope that our productive dialogue with the PTA can bring assurance of the government's commitment to a stable, enabling environment whereby we can explore investing further in the market, including in the inspiring talent we've seen thrive on TikTok. Last week, the PTA blocked TikTok in view of complaints and the nature of content being consistently posted on the app.

“TikTok was given considerable time to respond and comply with instructions to effectively moderate unlawful online content,” the PTA said then. "However, the application failed to fully comply with the instructions. Therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country.”

Pakistan was latest country that banned the app, owned by Chinese parent company Bytedance. The US threatened to ban the app because of data privacy concerns. India banned it in June. Bangladesh and Indonesia have cited reasons like indecency and blasphemy for enacting temporary TikTok bans.

The ban has been used in other countries to retaliate to extreme protectionism provided to local companies in China that obstructs entry of foreign rivals. In Pakistan, the bans were, however, arbitrarily imposed on the tech startups without explaining what constitutes indecent content. Experts said the actions pose threat to the entrepreneurial ecosystem that has been growing in the past seven years, with startups raising nearly $192 million in the last five years.