Kenya Parliament conducts hearings on proposed TikTok ban


Tik Tok

from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya Bureau
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – THE Kenyan cabinet is against the ban on TikTok but advocates for the regulation of the social media platform.

The short-form video service is divisive in the East African country, where it is subject to an unprecedented petition demanding its ban by the government.

Ben Ndolo, the petitioner, claims TikTtok promotes violence, explicit sexual content, hate speech, vulgar language and offensive behaviour which is “a serious threat to the cultural and religious values of Kenya.”

The petition tabled last August to the national House of Assembly further argues the platform is not regulated by the Communications Authority, leading to the failure to remove inappropriate and offensive content.

Some human rights organisations locally are opposed to the ban, arguing such social media platforms, including TikTok, have emerged as spaces for creative expression, entertainment, information sharing, social interaction, public participation, awareness raising, education and engagement.

They have also petitioned the National Assembly, arguing TikTok is a digital public platform for discourse, engagement and the exercise of democratic rights.

The cabinet of President William Ruto on Tuesday had its say on the matter during a session at the National Assembly.

Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and the Digital Economy, Eliud Owalo, has appeared before the National Assembly’s Public Petitions Committee.

“We choose regulation, as opposed to a complete ban,” he said.

“We (propose to) go the direction of regulation, enhancing our regulatory framework as opposed to a ban.”

Owalo called for the regulation of TikTok through adoption of a holistic approach that combines legal, technical and educational measures.

“Kenya should not ban, but effectively regulate TikTok, so as to protect the rights of individuals, foster trust in the digital ecosystem, promote innovation and economic growth.”

Last week, officials from TikTok’s sub-Saharan Africa appeared before the Public Petitions Committee and appealed to it to reject the ban petition.

Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, Head of Public Policy and Government Relations, argued a ban would be tantamount to freedom of expression.

He told legislators TikTok in 2023 took down more than 296 000 inappropriate videos from Kenya.

It could not be ascertained when the House of Assembly will make a decision on the petition.

– CAJ News

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