A petitioner has called on Members of Parliament to ban the use of popular social media application TikTok saying it is a contributor to erosion of cultural and religious morals in the society.
The Executive Officer of Bridget Connect Consultancy Bob Ndolo in a petition to the National Assembly on Tuesday, called on MPs to move with speed and ban the use of TikTok in the country as it is exposing young people to explicit sexual content.
The petitioner decries that while the use of the application has gained popularity among the youth in the country, the content being shared on the platform is inappropriate thus promoting violence, explicit sexual content, hate speech, vulgar language, and offensive behaviours which is a serious threat to cultural and religious values
He says the internet in Kenya is not regulated by the Communications Authority of Kenya hence it is difficult to regulate the content being uploaded on TikTok.
Mr Ndolo in his petition says TikTok has invaded the privacy of even children thereby creating scandals.
He warned that if the App is not banned in Kenya, its addictive nature would lead to a decline of academic performance and rise in mental issue such as depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation among the youth.
While commenting on the petition, Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa said Parliament cannot preside over the banning of the app since it has created employment to the majority of young people.
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Mr Ichung’wa said while the petitioner has valid concerns, his approach for total ban is akin to fighting technology.
“The petitioner should come to seek on how to regulate the usage of the app, age group and content uploaded for a certain age to watch, outright banning would be killing careers of many young people who are earning a living through it,” Mr Ichung’wa said.
“These apps are part of the government effort where young men and women can create content for use in TikTok and snap chat to earn a living,” he added.
Kirinyaga woman representative Njeri Maina said there is a high unemployment rate in the country especially among the young people hence MPs cannot ban tiktok but can regulate the content uploaded in it.
Nominated MP Irene Mayaka said the banning the usage of the app in Kenya would not solve the problems raised by the petitioner saying with applications such as the Virtual Private Network (VPN), one can still watch the contents in apps available in other countries.
She urged parents should to monitor what their children consume in social media
Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie said TikTok has not done any crime saying it’s the users that should be blamed on the content they watch.
“Parliament cannot go to the houses of individuals to switch off tiktok because the children are misusing it, it’s the parents and churches to teach the children about morality,” Mr Kiarie said.
Ndhiwa MP Martin Owino pointed out that parliament cannot legislate on morals and at the same time can’t provide an environment for it to thrive, urging there is need for careful balancing on how to handle the matter.
“Most parents cannot regulate the use of the app as much as we can, we have to be conscious of these platforms. While we cannot do total banning, we need to do proper controlling and regulation to save our children,” Mr Owino said.
The petition will be considered by the committee which will give its verdict after 60 days.