The government has taken a decisive step to restrict the usage of TikTok, a Chinese-owned app, in response to concerns about its adverse impact on social harmony. This decision was made during a Cabinet meeting on Monday, although the specific date for the ban to take effect is still pending confirmation.
Despite the fundamental right to freedom of expression, the government has received widespread criticism from a significant portion of society for TikTok’s alleged promotion of hate speech. Over the past four years, the video-sharing app has been associated with 1,647 reported cases of cybercrime.
A collaborative discussion between the Cyber Bureau of the Nepal Police, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and TikTok representatives took place earlier last week. The official enforcement of Monday’s decision is anticipated once technical preparations are completed.
This recent move follows closely on the heels of the government’s introduction of the ‘Directives on the Operation of Social Networking 2023.’ According to these new regulations, social media platforms operating in Nepal are now required to establish a physical presence in the country.
In a previous Cabinet meeting on Thursday, it was mandated that social media giants like Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, and YouTube establish liaison offices in Nepal. The government asserted that this measure was essential due to a growing number of complaints from users about the difficulty in addressing concerns and removing objectionable content in the absence of company representatives in Nepal.
Within three months of the directive’s enforcement, these companies must either set up an office or appoint a focal person in Nepal. Additionally, they are obligated to register their social media platforms with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, which holds the authority to shut down unregistered platforms.
The directives also outline a comprehensive 19-point list of prohibitions for users of platforms such as Facebook, X, TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. These measures aim to ensure responsible and lawful use of social media in the country.