Nepal announced on November 13 that it’s banning the social media app TikTok. According to Rekha Sharma, the Minister for Communications and Information Technology of Nepal, the app is distracting the country’s “social harmony and family structure.”
This ban is immediate. Although there are no reports as to when all the users are going to lose access to the app, Reuters reported that Nepal Telecom Authority Chair Purushottam Khanal said that internet providers are slowly cutting access.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal also defended the government’s decision and said, “After a long discussion on how to control the tendency to spread disharmony, disorder, and chaos in the society … a consensus was reached among all political parties, including both the ruling party and the opposition.”
There have been 1,600 TikTok-related cyber crime cases for the past four years, strengthening the demand to control the app. Nepal’s neighbor country, India, also banned TikTok for its threat to the country’s sovereignty. United States lawmakers are also debating on the potential ban of the Chinese-owned app due to concerns of national security.
However, this ban in Nepal was also met with criticism, pointing to the extreme regulation freedom of expression. According to Nepali Congress Gagan Thapa, who is against this ban, “Regulation is necessary to discourage those who abuse social media, but shutting down social media in the name of regulation is completely wrong.”
Tightening of social media regulation in Nepal
Nepal’s TikTok ban comes after the government’s announcement on tightening its regulation on social media platforms. The Nepali government released a directive, making it mandatory for apps like Facebook, X, YouTube and more to open their liaison offices in Nepal. Within three months of the release of this directive, the mentioned companies should have an office or focal person in Nepal and register their companies with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.