Kickboxer throws down challenge to Pakistan’s TikTok ban

In this news, we discuss the Kickboxer throws down challenge to Pakistan’s TikTok ban.

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A mixed martial arts scholar is challenging Pakistan’s ban on TikTok, the video-sharing app he hoped to gain mass audiences on and help people get in shape.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) last week blocked access to TikTok, which is owned by China-based ByteDance, citing unspecified complaints from the public about “immoral and indecent content.”

Muhammad Ashfaq Jutt, 34, told Reuters he joined TikTok a year ago because it was becoming a popular platform and was cheaper than traditional advertising.

“All kinds of people, from street sweepers to day laborers, have become world famous using TikTok, so I thought it was also a good way to market themselves,” Jutt said.

Jutt’s petition, which he filed on Wednesday and was seen by Reuters, calls for guidance on exactly how the content is declared objectionable and his attorney Usama Khawar said he hoped the High Court in Islamabad will revoke the ban.

“The judges rhetorically asked the court, if TikTok can be banned even if it has millions of videos because of a few offensive videos, why can’t it shut down the entire internet?” Khawar said on Thursday.

TikTok has been downloaded more than 43 million times in Pakistan, said analytics company Sensor Tower, while PTA said it was the third most popular social media app after Facebook and WhatsApp, with over 20 million active accounts.

Despite having only 209 followers so far, Jutt was hoping to use TikTok to reach ordinary Pakistanis, joining a growing community of influencers in the country, some with millions of followers.

‘IN SHAPE’

Jutt, who has been practicing mixed martial arts for 26 years, is the senior vice president of the Pakistan Kickboxing Federation and claims to have won several international titles.

He runs three kickboxing centers in the eastern city of Lahore, including a female self-defense teacher, and his personal training clients include soldiers, police, and government officials.

His pop-up TikTok account featured clips of him doing jumps and push-ups, and training with students.

“I thought it was a good way for me to help Pakistan, to help people get back in shape,” Jutt said, adding: “It was going well but the government then decided to ban TikTok. “

Critics say the government’s decision against platforms like TikTok is not only against free speech, but has also hurt financially.

PTA, which in September blocked five apps including Tinder and Grindr for posting “immoral content,” said this week it had met with TikTok management to discuss efforts to “improve content moderation.”

It also blocked the popular game of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, but overturned the ban after Islamabad’s High Court struck it off. The same court is now hearing Jutt’s petition challenging the TikTok ban, which is slated for next week.

Reporting by Umar Farooq; Edited by Alexander Smith

Original © Thomson Reuters Corporation

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