Govt surveillance on additional social media apps sparks concerns for democracy and freedom of expression

Amar Jyoti
3 Min Read

The government, having banned TikTok, is now extending its monitoring efforts to include other social media platforms such as Telegram and Snapchat. Prakash Rayamajhi, the Prime Minister’s information technology expert, has indicated that studies are underway to explore regulatory measures or potential bans on these apps, similar to the action taken against TikTok.

The government states that it banned TikTok due to its impact on social harmony and family disruption. In the ongoing legal proceedings, the Supreme Court refrained from issuing an interim order. Instead, it requested a written response and has scheduled the final hearing for December 5.

The court not issuing an interim order along with the support of one sphere of the society has motivated Pushpa Kamal Dahal to explore the possibility of regulating additional platforms in the country.

Rayamajhi said a group of experts are currently studying if social media apps like Likee, IMO, Bigo, Tinder, TanTan, Bumble, Telegram and Snapchat should also be banned in Nepal.

Rayamajhi claims that inappropriate behaviours are widespread on live streaming platforms such as Bigo Live, and there is an alarming occurrence of financial and sexual crimes taking place through messaging apps like IMO and Telegram.

“There is an argument that social media apps have the power to negatively impact the psychology of the younger generation. That negative impact will affect society too,” said Rayamajhi, defending the government’s actions. “I call these apps anti-social sites, not social sites. We are looking if these apps need to be banned or the government can regulate them.”

Rayamajhi said that decisions will be made considering the unique characteristics of the apps under surveillance and the societal impact they have generated.

“There is a concern about the potential exposure of children to these apps where they can learn wrong things. There is also an argument about children being vulnerable to sexual abuse and criminal activities through these apps,” he said. “The ongoing study is mindful of these challenges.”

He said that studies are also being conducted on the positive and negative sides of gaming apps like PUBG and Freefire and says parents have been complaining about their children getting addicted to these mobile games.

“We know how well Nepali PUBG teams are doing on the international stage. A team even took part in the recent Asian Games. But there are examples of it having more negative effects than positive on society,” he said. “We are not biased towards any specific sites. We want to ensure the society does not suffer because of it.”

Rayamajhi said the findings of their study will be released once complete.

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