•      Fri Dec 1 2023

Decision to shut down TikTok is against freedom of expression: Sudhamshu Dahal

Kathmandu, Nov 16: After the government shut down the popular video sharing app Tiktok, experts on digital platform and consumer rights activist have raised voice against the government’s move citing it may hinder the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech.

With the government shutting down TikTok, two types of voices have been raised in recent days. Some people say that the government’s decision to close TikTok is objectionable, while others argue that the government’s decision to close down Tiktok is welcome move due to the distortions seen in TikTok.

Even the parliamentarians from the ruling party have protested against the government’s decision. Nepali Congress General Secretaries Gagan Kumar Thapa and Bishwa Prakash Sharma, as well as Congress Joint General Secretary Bhishma Raj Angdambe have claimed that the government’s decision to shut down TikTok was wrong and requested to withdraw the decision immediately.

On the other hand, some leaders of the opposition party CPN-UML, Chairman of Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) Rabi Lamichhane, Chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) Rajendra Lingden have expressed the opinion that the ban on TikTok should be removed immediately saying that the government has violated the freedom of individuals. Also, how did Tiktok have to be controlled directly by the agency that should regulate it?

In recent times, there have been many video clips in TikTok related to activities and topics that cause social distortions. In a program organized in Bhaktapur on the occasion of Nepal Sambat 1144, the Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda explained that the government had to shut down TikTok in order to control the disharmony, distortion, chaos in the society and preventing the state from moving forward from its responsibilities. But still the common people are angry with the government.

Mass media expert Sudhamshu Dahal said that the government’s ban on Tiktok is contradictory. In a conversation, he said that the government was  earlier thinking over regulation, but abrupt decision surprised all.

He said, “Previously we heard that the government had introduced social media guidelines. We understood that the government will regulate all social platform. It was against it’s own prior decision.”

He said that controlling social media platforms in this way is a violation of freedom of expression. He said, “Blocking individual’s freedom of expression is against the spirit of the constitution. Society itself controls the content that appear in the social platform. People can see and judge their leaders, raise voice over societal problems and caution the government and it’s agencies.”

Mr Dahal said that the government made a wrong decision in the midst of Tihar festival. He said that it is an undemocratic activity to silence the voice of the people. He also said that social networks should be strictly regulated instead of closure.

He furter said, “Digital platform is also the basis of living in the society now. The society itself looks digital platforms prone, and they are becoming part of life.  In my personal view, regulation is better than shutting down TikTok. It is not good to close the social network thinking that it is not possible to regulate. The government need to invest on developing mechanisms with sound human resources and technology.”

We need to have TikTok Office here in Nepal as well.  But till now Tiktok has not been registered in Nepal. Because of this, a large portion of revenue have flown out of the country.