Kenya’s Ministry of Communications Urges TikTok Regulation, Shuns Total Ban


Kenya’s Ministry of Information has expressed opposition to any proposals for banning TikTok, advocating instead for increased regulation of the popular Chinese short-video platform owned by ByteDance. During a parliamentary session on Friday, John Tanui, the ICT principal secretary, outlined the risks associated with a ban, which include the creation of splinternets, suppression of competition, and constraints on freedom of expression. Tanui highlighted that a TikTok ban could also negatively impact the revenue from data for telecommunications companies.

The ministry has suggested implementing partial regulations in collaboration with ByteDance to address concerns, all within the framework of Kenyan law. Additionally, it recommended broadening the responsibilities of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) to include oversight of new media platforms, specifically focusing on the scrutiny of online content.

TikTok is facing intensified scrutiny from the government. During a parliamentary hearing in March 2024, Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki highlighted the misuse of the platform, stating that criminals have exploited TikTok to disseminate harmful propaganda, hijack popular accounts through identity theft and impersonation, and engage in deceptive practices like fraudulent forex schemes and counterfeit job offers.

The concerns about TikTok were echoed earlier, as Bob Ndolo, CEO of Bridget Consultancy, submitted a petition eight months prior, advocating for a TikTok ban due to its association with promoting hate speech, sexual violence, and vulgar content.

Despite these issues, the app boasts approximately 10.6 million users in Kenya, many of whom depend on it for their livelihood by creating and sharing content. A 2023 report from the Reuters Institute highlighted Kenya’s significant engagement with TikTok, noting that around 54% of the population uses this platform, ranking it highest in national usage.

Tanu, a proponent of digital communication, argued against a ban, suggesting that regulating TikTok and similar platforms would be a more balanced approach. He emphasized that regulation would preserve access to global social media platforms, which is crucial for the unimpeded exchange of information and ideas across borders, thereby keeping Kenyan internet users competitive in the global digital arena.

Furthermore, Tanu pointed out that TikTok offers a vital outlet for diverse expressions of creativity, political discourse, and cultural representation. Implementing a ban could limit these essential channels, potentially curtailing a variety of perspectives and creative expressions.



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