In a significant move, the Nepalese government has officially banned the use of TikTok, citing multiple concerns ranging from privacy and national security to societal well-being. The decision, implemented on November 13, has sparked a heated debate with both supporters and opponents expressing their views.
A show-cause order has been issued in response to a petition filed in the Supreme Court against the ban. The government’s stance, as clarified in the order, revolves around several critical issues that led to the decision to prohibit TikTok.
Inability to Regulate Content in Real-Time: The government highlighted that, unlike other social networks, TikTok faces challenges in removing content that violates community guidelines in real-time. Instead, it records live videos and shares them on other platforms, making regulation difficult. This lack of control over content was a significant factor in the decision to ban TikTok.
Data Security and Privacy Concerns: One of the primary reasons cited by the government is TikTok’s inability to protect citizens’ data adequately. The platform poses a challenge to national sovereignty and violates citizens’ privacy, leading to a justified decision to ban its use.
Impact on Social Harmony and National Security: The ban follows instances where TikTok has been linked to incidents that disrupted social harmony and posed threats to national security. Specific incidents, such as those in Dharan and Nepalgunj, played a role in the decision, with the government emphasizing that the prohibition order helped bring the situation under control.
Rise in Unethical and Anti-Social Activities: The government expressed concern about the surge in unethical activities facilitated by TikTok, including the sale of obscene videos, gambling, and the dissemination of illegal advertisements. Instances of accidents, deaths, and criminal activities associated with the platform prompted the government to take action.
Negative Impact on Health and Productivity: TikTok’s addictive nature, as acknowledged by the government, has led to adverse effects on users’ mental health, contributing to issues such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression. The government cited concerns about the potential deterioration of human health and productivity as a reason for the ban.
Legal Basis for the Ban: While guidelines on social media operations have been issued, the absence of a specific law prompted the Council of Ministers to make the decision, which will be recognized as law until relevant legislation is enacted. The government referenced constitutional provisions and existing laws related to privacy, emphasizing the need for responsible and lawful social media practices.
Global Trend of TikTok Bans: The ban on TikTok in Nepal aligns with a global trend where various countries, including the United States, India, and several European nations, have either partially or completely banned the platform. Reasons for these bans vary, encompassing privacy concerns, national security risks, and the potential negative impact on mental health and societal harmony.
The government’s decision to ban TikTok underscores its commitment to safeguarding citizens’ well-being, data security, and maintaining social harmony and national security. The debate surrounding the ban continues, with stakeholders expressing diverse opinions on the platform’s role in Nepalese society.