Pakistan authorities have blocked Tinder, Grindr and three other dating apps for not adhering to local laws, its latest move to curb online platforms deemed to be disseminating immoral content.
The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said it has
sent notices to the management of the five apps, keeping in view the negative effects of immoral/indecent content streaming. PTA said the notices issued to Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout and SayHi sought the removal of dating services and moderation of
live streaming content in accordance with local laws.
Data from analytics firm Sensor Tower shows Tinder has been downloaded more than 440,000 times in Pakistan within the last 12 months. Grindr, Tagged and SayHi had each been downloaded about
300,000 times and Skout 100,000 times in that same period.
PlayerUnknown's Battleground is a 2017 South Korea Battle Royale by PUBG Corporation.
The game made the news in spring 2019 when it was banned in Nepal, Jordan, Iraq and parts of India. In Pakistan calls for a ban were directed to the
courts and so the country is a little behind the curve.
A petition filed in the Lahore High Court stated that the players of the online game were facing psychological problems like lack of decision-making capabilities and social relations, as well as
taking them aside from their academic activities and creating violent behaviour.
The court responded on 18thh May 2020 by rather passing the buck to Pakistan's internet censors. The court seems to have agreed with the petitioner that the game should
be banned but has ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to take the final decision within 6 weeks.
Earlier this month, the government of Pakistan enacted some of the most authoritarian and restrictive online censorship laws outside Communist China. The laws seems to be based on European and UK laws to hold the internet companies responsible for
whatever users post.
Although the likes of Google and Facebook usually bow down to local law, this new law was a step too far. Google, Twitter, and Facebook have surprised many by taking a stand against the Pakistani government's censorship plans and
threatening to pull out of the country if the plans aren't changed. And remarkably, it seems to be working.
Pakistan's new law is misleadingly titled the Citizen Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020. It gives the country's censors the power
to shut down a huge range of online content. It would require tech companies to remove this content within 24 hours of it being posted.
Tech companies would also be duty-bound to stop post of various types of content from becoming accessible to
Pakistani users in real-time and appears to make them responsible for the content of posts put up by users.
Tech companies would also be required to store user data on local servers and open headquarters in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
The main internet companies have now got together under the banner of the Asia Internet Coalition and have written a frank and critical letter to Prime Minister, Imran Khan. It explains that if the law isn't changed all the companies will withdraw from the Pakistani market altogether.
In response Pakistani officials have duly committed to review the regulations this week and have said they will now conduct a comprehensive and broad consultation process with all relevant segments of civil society and technology companies.
Perhaps the cooperative stand taken by the internet giants may be something for the UK to consider in its own plans for a repressive new 'online harms censorship law. It would seem entirely reasonable for the companies to take a stand against being held responsible for all the world's ills.
After Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered into a nationwide shutdown, reports out of that country indicated that at least some of the hundreds of porn sites blocked there since October of 2018 were quietly coming back online .
that though there was no official lifting of the porn ban, PornHub quietly became accessible to Indian internet users just a day after the stay-at-home order went into effect, albeit via the site's .org address.
Locked-down Indian citizens have
been accessing PornHub content at a record rate since Modi's shutdown order, according to a report by India's Free Press Journal. Pornhub has reported a staggering 95% increase in traffic from India as of late last week.
The tube site xHamster
reported a 20% rise in Indian traffic over the first three weeks in March .
Some online commenters theorized that the government had quietly relaxed the national porn ban as an added incentive to keep Indians in their homes during the scheduled