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Pakistan starts banning Chinese apps, gives TikTok a final warning

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Pakistan has followed in the footsteps of India and started to ban Chinese apps, but for widely different reasons.

In a press release, Pakistan’s Telecommunications Authority (PTA) announced that the social video-streaming app Bigo has been banned while social media app TikTok has been a given a final warning.

Unlike India’s recent ban of 59 Chinese apps, which described the apps as a threat to national security and sovereignty, Pakistan’s crackdown on these Chinese apps is based on complaints about “immoral, obscene, and vulgar content” in the apps.

PTA said it had warned both apps that they’re legally required to moderate content on their platforms but “the response of these companies has not been satisfactory.”

Under this final warning, TikTok is being ordered to “put in place a comprehensive mechanism to control obscenity, vulgarity, and immorality through its social media application.”

PTA’s announcement is reflective of a wider crackdown on Chinese apps in several countries other countries including the United States where TikTok was recently banned on federal devices.

But the growing crackdown on Chinese apps also highlights the paradox that comes with increased government control and regulation of the internet.

On the one hand, former Chinese web censors claim that China is using apps such as TikTok to export its censorship policies into other countries and the data gathering has huge potential national security concerns.

Yet, on the other hand, setting the precedent of governments banning apps because they deem their content to be “immoral, obscene, and vulgar” could usher in much stricter internet censorship standards that resemble those China is trying to export.

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