By A Staff Reporter, Kathmandu, Nov. 21:The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT) has cited the challenge of regulating real-time content on TikTok and the platform's failure to promptly remove content violating community guidelines as the primary reasons for the government-imposed restrictions on this social media application.
It emphasised that unlike other social networks that are capable of swiftly removing content breaching community guidelines, TikTok struggles to eliminate real-time content from its platform. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that live videos on TikTok are recorded and shared on other social networks, making it nearly impossible to effectively regulate the application.
Furthermore, the government asserted that the ban on TikTok is essential to maintain social harmony and ensure the safety of citizens. The government contends that TikTok's inability to safeguard citizens' data poses a threat to national sovereignty, with privacy violations becoming a significant challenge. Consequently, the decision to restrict TikTok use is seen as a protective measure to address these concerns and uphold the well-being of the citizens.
With the conclusion that social harmony and social environment are being negatively affected by the content published on TikTok, the government had banned the use of the social media platform in Nepal on November 13. Public opinion has been divided for and against the ban since then. According to the Ministry, TikTok has become a challenge for the physical security of citizens while most of the cyber-crime complaints are related to TikTok.
"Addiction to the app backed by its algorithm to feed endless videos has increased health-related problems such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression among Nepali people. As the children and youth are being led in the wrong direction and fed with content that give rise to toxic psychology, the use of TikTok has been banned considering the fate of the future leaders," it said.
It stated that about 45 per cent TikTok users are in the age group of 12 to 24 years, so there is a danger that people of this age group could be easily swayed by wrong influences and become ambitious and go viral by applying any mean.
Likewise, people with a criminal mindset take advantage of the psychology of TikTok users and get them involved in criminal activities. There are increasing incidences of negative impact on the society such as suicide, insults, accidents, family break-up due to this social media app.
"The app has been instrumental in promoting negative influence against our customs, culture, practices, values, beliefs and social harmony, which is adding challenge to the entire eastern civilization," said the MoCIT.
Recently, a TikTok video depicting an organisation of feast that served beef disturbed the communal harmony in Dharan and the administration had to impose restriction on the movement of people. Earlier, same case happened in Nepalgunj when videos that hurt the feelings of Muslim community went viral on TikTok. The social media app has also become a platform for porn videos, gambling and illegal advertisement.
It has been an instrument in violating the individual privacy.
The Ministry has informed that although the guidelines on the operation of social media have been issued, the law regarding this is still in the process of being drafted, so until the law is passed, the decision of the council of ministers will be recognised as the law.
Article 28 of the Constitution of Nepal states that the right to privacy is ensured, but the privacy of any person's life, residence, property, writings, data, correspondence and character is inviolable except in accordance with the law.
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The Privacy Act, 2018 also includes the right to privacy of conversations through electronic systems. Every person shall have the right to keep their personal information, writing, correspondence, data or character related matter in electronic medium confidential. There is a clear provision that no one shall use any mechanical device to listen to any communication or conversation between two or more persons by electronic means, except when ordered by the authorised authority in accordance with the law granted by the concerned persons.
Countries that imposed ban on TikTok include the United Kingdom, the United States of America, New Zealand, Canada, Kirgizstan, Taiwan, Belgium, Denmark, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Somalia, Armenia, Iran, Austria, France, Ireland, Latvia, and Azerbaijan. Likewise, Jordan has imposed a temporary ban on the app while Malta, Netherland, Norway and Australia have banned it on government devices and for government officials.
These countries have sited reasons like addiction in children, mental health, cyber safety and security, personal privacy, national security, misinformation, religious harmony, religious tensions, and pornography for the restriction on the app.