Nepal Imposes Ban On TikTok? Why, Let’s Find Out!

November 30, 2023 by No Comments

Nepal is a small landlocked country between two Asian giants India and China. Nepal recently made a bold move, deciding to ban the Chinese-owned app TikTok. But why?

This small country has made a daring move by making TikTok not accessible to its citizens. Because the government believes the content of the Chinese software TikTok is generating social difficulties. Soon after Nepal passed a new law requiring social media companies to establish headquarters there, authorities announced this ruling. Almost a billion people use TikTok each month. However, a number of nations, including its neighboring nation India, have outlawed it. Rekha Sharma, Nepal’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, claimed that TikTok disseminates offensive material. Authorities have instructed the telecom authorities to execute the ban, which takes effect immediately. However, the government official in Nepal, believes that this prohibition is an attempt to restrict free speech. They argue that authorities should instead concentrate on controlling the platform.

Global criticism from all around the world has targeted TikTok due to worries that the Chinese government might receive user data. However, ByteDance, the firm that controls TikTok, has refuted these claims. When the BBC asked TikTok for comments regarding the ban in Nepal, the company did not reply. Likewise, as per the sources, Nepal has recorded more than 1,600 cases of TikTok-related cybercrimes in the last four years. As per research published by BBC Media Action, TikTok holds the third rank in terms of popularity among media platforms in Nepal. Users of all ages like Facebook and YouTube, but younger users, in particular, have a strong preference for TikTok. Over 80% of social media users between the ages of 16 and 24 utilize the site.

Analyzing: Ban on TikTok from Nepal

Nepal, a country of 30 million people with an impressive 90.56% internet penetration rate, faces particular difficulties in the global social media scene. Recently, Nepal banned TikTok, a popular social media app. Concerns about its impact on social harmony and the spread of indecent materials led to the making of this decision. The government stated that the ban was necessary to regulate the use of the platform. The government took this action because it believed TikTok was disrupting social harmony and goodwill. After numerous complaints about hate speech and cybercrime associated with the app, authorities made the decision.

The TikTok ban has triggered mixed responses. Some government representatives such as Balen Shah and Gagan Thapa have addressed the issue. They claimed that this addresses issues of obscenity and cybercrime, however argued that it interferes with the right to free expression. They also contend that the ban impacts the livelihoods of small companies and content artists who depend on TikTok. The impact of the suspension goes beyond specific users. It includes small companies and content artists who depend on TikTok for their livelihoods. The decision emphasizes the need for a more sophisticated regulatory strategy. This strategy should take into account the platform’s impact and the livelihoods. It also suggests addressing particular issues with tailored regulations rather than opting for a total ban.

Did the Internet Traffic Grow or Slump?

Despite the ban, there has been an unexpected 20 percent growth in internet traffic. Users use Virtual Private Network (VPN) software, which enables them to access the platform and get around local censorship. This is considered the major cause of this spike. Although 95% of TikTok operations were allegedly halted by the government. However, users have started to find loopholes to use TikTok by using VPNs to invade regulatory actions. Put more simply, more users are utilizing VPNs to access TikTok despite the limitations. This may be the reason for the spike in internet traffic following the platform’s shutdown.

Nepal’s internet culture faces particular difficulties, including limitations on an apparent lack of communication between social media companies and regulators. Even after the ban on TikTok, internet traffic has unexpectedly increased by 20 percent. It’s thought that this rise is the result of people using Virtual Private Network (VPN) programs to access TikTok and get around local censorship. People are already figuring out other ways to access the platform, like altering Google’s Domain Name System (DNS). To guarantee total access limitation, the government is thinking of taking other measures, such as restricting VPNs. Also, because of TikTok’s substantial influence on Nepal’s bandwidth consumption, some saw the platform’s prohibition as a loss of revenue for the government.

However, the effectiveness of the prohibition and the government’s capacity to control online activity has come under scrutiny. The government emphasizes the importance of addressing concerns relating to social harmony and cybercrime. However, critics argue that the restriction limits freedom of expression. Drawing comparisons to India’s 2020 ban on TikTok amid geopolitical tensions, the ban has spurred discussion about the decision’s possible political intentions.

TikTok Voices Concern Amidst Ongoing Debate Over Imminent Ban

The Nepali government, claiming that TikTok has broken social harmony and badly impacted society, has banned the popular social media network. The decision has generated a lot of discussion, with some government representatives supporting content regulation over a complete prohibition. However, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal justified the action and emphasized the government’s dedication to reducing social problems.

Following a Cabinet decision, the Nepali government quickly outlawed TikTok, claiming the app’s potential to undermine social order. The ban’s effects on digital rights, freedom of speech, and the economy, particularly on Nepali content creators and companies dependent on TikTok for promotion, have prompted concerns. Opponents of the ban contend that it is politically driven and infringes constitutional rights, notwithstanding the government’s claims of widespread political agreement on the matter. Prior to the shutdown, TikTok had discussions regarding content regulation with Nepali officials.

TikTok's letter to Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA)
TikTok's letter to Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) 2
TikTok’s letter to Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA)

Likewise, a Cabinet meeting mandated that social media firms, including Facebook, X, TikTok, and YouTube, open liaison offices in Nepal, following the introduction of government directives to that effect. The government used the challenges of handling user complaints and eliminating offensive information without firm representatives in Nepal to support these actions. The ban, according to critics, is politically driven and unconstitutional, with TikTok being singled out in the conflict between traditional and emerging political powers.

Also read: Nepal Struck by 6.4M Earthquake: Scores Death in the Aftermath!