A petition to ban Tik Tok in Kenya has rattled many people including the civil society who have come out to protest the move urging the members of parliament to oppose it.
Parliament received the petition on August 15, 2023 from a petitioner Bob Ndolo, an executive officer of the Briget Connect Consultancy.
Mr Ndolo claimed in the petition that content on TikTok was inappropriate as it “promotes violence, explicit sexual content, hate speech, vulgar language, and offensive behavior which is a serious threat to the cultural and religious values of Kenya.
The petition further avers that the platform is not regulated by the Communications Authority, leading to its failure to remove inappropriate and offensive content.
It also cites TikTok for violating the privacy rights of children and its users and sharing people’s data with third parties without consent. Moreover, it states that the app is addictive and could lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and sleep deprivation.
However, over five civil society groups, including Access Now, Article 19 Eastern Africa, Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE), KICTANet, Galck+, Haki na Sheria, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Paradigm Initiative have urged parliament to reject the proposal to ban TikTok or any other social media platform in Kenya.
“Social media platforms, including TikTok, have emerged as spaces for creative expression, entertainment, information sharing, social interaction, public participation, awareness raising, education, and engagement on a wide range of issues.
“Platforms in this time and age have also become an alternative source of relevant and credible news and information not covered by traditional or mainstream media, a notice board for ongoing events, including for government bodies, and the new digital public square for discourse, engagement and the exercise of democratic rights, “read their statement.
The lobby groups have called upon parliament to promote media information literacy and digital literacy programmes to educate citizens, with digital skills to harness online opportunities, be responsible digital citizens, enjoy their digital rights, and ensure their online safety.
They also want Tik Tok on its part to invest in adequate administrative, human, technical and financial resources in content moderation to ensure their policies, processes, structures and practices are rights-respecting, context- and culture-sensitive, efficient and effective, particularly in their non-English speaking and global majority markets.
“Streamline transparency and accountability mechanisms, including by providing regular and comprehensive transparency reports with disaggregated data by country of the content removed from their platform and insights on how content is reviewed, flagged and removed. Such regular transparency reporting is already a de-facto standard for the tech sector in general,”read the statement in parts.