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Pakistan

PTA blocks Tinder, four other online dating and streaming apps in Pakistan

The blocking comes in the wake of the telecom authority's recent actions on complaints of "immoral, obscene and vulgar content."
01 Sep 2020

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Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has blocked access to five dating and live streaming applications in Pakistan, namely Tinder, Tagged, Skout, Grindr and SayHi, according to a statement issued by the telecom authority.

Tinder has been unaccessible in Pakistan since the past weekend and users across social media have reported being unable to use the app, which is mainly used for online dating and networking. PTA refused to confirm whether the app had been officially blocked in the country until Tuesday afternoon.

"Keeping in view the negative effects of immoral/indecent content streaming through the above applications, PTA issued notices to the management of above mentioned platforms for the purpose of removing dating services and to moderate live streaming content in accordance with the local laws of Pakistan," read a press release issued by the authority.

"Since the platforms did not respond to the notices within the stipulated time therefore the Authority issued orders for blocking of the said applications."

"PTA can, however, reconsider blocking of the said applications provided management of the companies assures adherence to the local laws with respect to moderating the indecent/immoral content through meaningful engagement."

The latest round of blocks comes in the wake of PTA blocking streaming app Bigo earlier in July due to "complaints of immoral, obscene and vulgar content". TikTok had been served a warning on similar grounds.

On orders of the Islamabad High Court, PTA also unbanned popular online game Player Unknown's Battlegrounds (known as PUBG) last month after assurance from the company for a comprehensive content control mechanism.

Meanwhile, Tinder is still available to download on app stores, but is not working within Pakistan. Most users reported server connection and login-related issues. New users are also unable to sign up.

Downdetector, which provides a realtime overview of issues and outage on digital services, shows the app being reported unavailable in major cities — Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Faisalabad — with only limited, localised outages elsewhere in the world.

A spokesperson for the authority did not respond to Business Recorder's repeated requests for comment.

A 2019 study revealed that most of Pakistan's Tinder users come from major cities including Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi and are usually between 18 and 40 years old. Participants in the study reported they mostly use the app to socialise and fight the loneliness of living in the big city.