The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has banned TikTok, the latest app to come in the crosshairs of the regulatory body. But this blanket ban, based on a narrow-minded concept of morality, comes from a complete lack of understanding of what the application really was for the millions that use it in Pakistan. For one, unlike twitter and Facebook—the giants of technology—TikTok in Pakistan did not only cater to the privileged. It is an app primarily used by lower-income groups. There is no doubt that a large part of its user base loves it for the entertainment, but it has also given rise to thousands of ‘TikTok celebrities’ in Pakistan, with followers as high as ten million, who found both fame and fortune by creating engaging 15-20 second videos.

Whenever bans are imposed by PTA, they are always centred on the organisation’s own conception of morality; there is never any research carried out to back the assertions; can an app really make society more problematic and lead to an increase in crimes of abuse? It is not easy to prove that TikTok was a leading cause (or even had the smallest of impacts) in making society less safe for women, which is why PTA did not look to take this circuitous route; it just went ahead and banned the app without taking any of its users into consideration.

This is not how decisions are made in a democratic society. Given that the most followed individual on TikTok has over 10 million followers, an unelected body has essentially decided what is best for millions of people, without being given the right to do so by the public.

This also goes against all of the ruling party’s claims of making a ‘Digital Pakistan’, because as it stands, Pakistan’s internet freedoms—or lack thereof—are taking us to the dark ages of the web. International tech companies are not oblivious; they notice a lack of freedoms in the internet landscape, and will not be encouraged into opening up shop in the country if things stay the way they are. PTA must have some of its powers taken away; the blanket ban cannot be exercised willy-nilly by a group of employees that clearly do not understand the value of freedom on the internet.