Nepal Is Banning TikTok as Officials Say It Disturbs ‘Social Harmony’

Dorothy Li
By Dorothy Li
November 14, 2023Science & Tech
Nepal Is Banning TikTok as Officials Say It Disturbs ‘Social Harmony’
The TikTok logo is displayed on signage outside TikTok social media app company offices in Culver City, Calif., on March 16, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Nepal has moved to ban the popular video-sharing app TikTok, saying the platform has been used to spread content that affects “social harmony.”

The Nepali government’s action comes amid growing international scrutiny of the Chinese-owned app over security and data concerns.

The decision to wipe TikTok from Nepali phones was made during a Nov. 13 cabinet meeting, according to Rekha Sharma, Nepal’s communications and information technology minister.

TikTok’s adverse social effects and hate speech were cited as major concerns. Ms. Sharma said the social media platform “disturbs social harmony and disrupts family structures and social relations.”

More than 1,600 cyber crime cases related to TikTok were registered in the past four years, according to The Kathmandu Post, a local newspaper.

The restriction is likely to be brought into force once authorities complete the technical preparation, according to the report.

“Colleagues are working on closing it technically,” Ms. Sharma told Reuters.

Nepal Telecom Authority Chair Purushottam Khanal said internet service providers have been asked to close the app.

“Some have already closed while others are doing it later today,” Mr. Khanal told Reuters.

The Epoch Times reached out to TikTok for comment but didn’t receive a response by press time.

Increasing Scrutiny

Regulators worldwide have escalated the efforts to restrict access to TikTok, a video app owned by the Beijing-based tech giant ByteDance, with many citing national security concerns.

The United States has ordered federal agencies to delete TikTok from all government devices, following a similar restriction by the European Commission. Canada also banned TikTok from all government-issued decives.

Lawmakers in Washington have expressed concerns about TikTok’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), saying the company could hand over American users’ data to Chinese authorities. They noted that China’s intelligence law compels “any organization or citizen” to “support, assist, and cooperate” with security and intelligence agencies when asked.

Experts and officials also pointed to the possibility that the CCP could use personal data harvesting from Americans through the viral app to conduct espionage operations or shape their perceptions to be favorable to the Chinese regime. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CBS on Nov. 12 that the viral app could be used as “a propaganda channel for the CCP.” About 40 percent of young Americans obtain “all their news” from TikTok, according to Mr. Warner.

TikTok has repeatedly denied such allegations. Nevertheless, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle remain cautious about TikTok because of its ties to ByteDance and the CCP, with some pushing for a federal ban.

Montana was the first U.S. state to ban the Chinese social media app after Gov. Greg Gianforte signed legislation in May preventing the app from operating in the state. TikTok is challenging the state-wide ban, which is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2024. But state officials argued that the move was needed to protect its residents’ privacy because of the app’s ties to the U.S. adversaries.

Across the world, India already imposed a nationwide TikTok ban in 2020. New Delhi banned the use of TikTok and dozens of Chinese apps, such as the popular messaging app WeChat, following a deadly border clash between the two neighbors over a disputed Himalayan region. These Chinese apps are “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order,” according to the Indian Technology Ministry.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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