The Nepalese government has made a decisive move to proscribe the use of TikTok within its borders, citing concerns over the disruption of social harmony. This measure signals the South Asian nation’s escalating apprehensions regarding the influence of the short-video sharing platform on the structure of its society.
TikTok, owned by the Chinese conglomerate ByteDance, has experienced meteoric growth in recent years, now boasting a user base of over one billion monthly active users globally. However, this popularity has not come without its share of scrutiny and regulatory challenges.
In a recent press conference, Rekha Sharma, Nepal’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology, articulated the cabinet’s decision to impose an indefinite suspension on TikTok. According to Sharma, “Considering how TikTok is disrupting our social harmony, and the impact it’s having on our family and social structures, the cabinet has decided to ban TikTok for the moment.”
Amidst the growing concern, Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal stood in defense of the prohibition during an event in the city of Bhaktapur. He underscored a unanimous agreement across all political parties concerning the need to reign in the propagation of disharmony and disorder, which is seemingly facilitated by the app’s presence in the country’s digital space.
Acting on the executive directive, Purushottam Khanal, chair of the Telecommunications Authority, has instructed internet service providers to revoke access to TikTok. The directive has been promptly adhered to by WorldLink Communications, the country’s premier ISP, with other providers expected to mirror this compliance imminently, as detailed in a report by state-run Nepal Television.
This development follows reports from local media, as mentioned by Reuters, which suggest the mounting incidence of TikTok-related cybercrimes in Nepal. Over the last four years, more than 1,600 cases have been registered, intensifying calls to regulate the platform stringently.
It is noteworthy that Nepal is not alone in its cautious stance against TikTok. India, a neighbor and one of TikTok’s most significant markets at the time, had already set a precedent over three years prior by banning the app and various other Chinese applications, citing them as threats to the nation’s sovereignty and integrity.
Moreover, security considerations have led countries like the United States and its Five Eyes intelligence alliance partners—Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand—to impose restrictions on TikTok’s use on government-issued devices. As of February, the White House mandated the removal of TikTok from all federal gadgets within a 30-day window, while Australia announced a similar directive in April for federal government devices.
The course of action taken by Nepal adds to the narrative of growing global scrutiny of not only TikTok but the broader influence of technology and social media on governance, security, and the fabric of society. As nations grapple with the dual-edged nature of digital platforms—juggling innovation and connectivity with safeguarding national interests—Nepal’s resolution reflects a concerted effort to maintain societal equilibrium amidst the ever-advancing tide of digitalization.