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HomeTech NewsKenya’s Ministry of Communications recommends regulating TikTok, rejects outright ban

Kenya’s Ministry of Communications recommends regulating TikTok, rejects outright ban

Kenya’s information ministry has opposed any suggestions of a TikTok ban and argued that the popular Chinese short-video social platform owned by ByteDance should be more regulated.

In a parliamentary hearing on Friday, John Tanui, the ICT principal secretary, argued that banning the app carries several risks, including the emergence of splinternets, inhibiting competition, and limiting freedom of expression. Tanui also said banning TikTok would hurt telcos’ data revenues.

The ministry recommended a partial regulation in consultation with ByteDance to address concerns raised within the limits of Kenyan laws. It proposed expanding the mandate of the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) to oversee new media platforms, including monitoring content published online.

It also wants TikTok to publish quarterly compliance reports detailing actions taken regarding published negative content.

The social media app has come under increased government scrutiny. Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki told a parliamentary hearing in March 2024 that criminals used TikTok “to spread malicious propaganda, steal popular accounts through identity theft and impersonation” and “conduct fraud by duping Kenyans into fake forex trades and fake job recruitments.”

The interior minister’s comments came eight months after Bob Ndolo, the CEO of Bridget Consultancy, filed a petition asking for a TikTok ban because the social media app promotes hate speech, sexual violence, and vulgarity.  

According to the ministry, the app has an estimated 10.6 million users in the country with some earning a living by posting content. In a Reuters Institute report released in 2023, Kenya ranked top in TikTok usage, with about 54% of the population using the social media site. 

“The regulation of TikTok and similar platforms instead of a ban is a win-win solution. Regulation will maintain access to global social media platforms, which will enhance the free flow of information and ideas across borders, enabling Kenyan internet users to be competitive in the global digital landscape,” Tanu said.

“TikTok serves as a diverse platform for expression, encompassing creativity, political commentary, and cultural representation. Banning TikTok limits the channels through which individuals express themselves, potentially stifling a range of perspectives and creative voices.”


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