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Gov't makes fresh demand to TikTok

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki said the TikTok platform has been used by criminal elements to spread malicious propaganda, identity theft and impersonation.

File image of Interior CS Kithure Kindiki.

Kenya has formally contacted TikTok and its parent company ByteDance regarding the level of compliance with country's rules and regulations on the use of the internet and data privacy laws.

This follows growing concerns over the abuse of the video-sharing platform in the country, with widespread distribution of sexual and exposure of minors to inappropriate content among the worrying trends reported in the recent past.

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki appeared before the National Assembly Committee on Petitions to respond to a petition by Bob Ndolo regarding the banning of TikTok in Kenya.

"TikTok, and other data controllers and processors must comply with regulations under the Data Protection Act.


"The Government, through the office of Data Protection Commissioner, has contacted TikTok and sought to ascertain the level of compliance to ensure the privacy of individuals is respected, provide details on the effectiveness of age verification and content filtering, and demonstrate compliance with requirements of the Data Protection Act, 2019," he stated.

He said Kenya has a robust data management and control legal framework to facilitate a secure, effective and efficient adoption of technology and digitisation of services in public and private sectors.

The CS noted that the traditional way of communication across the world has been disrupted by social media platforms including TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Telegram, and Signal.

They have been embraced by citizens as a medium of communicating, sharing information, planning events, promotion of brands and marketing tools for various products.


However, he observed that with its wide reach, the TikTok platform has been used by criminal elements to spread malicious propaganda, identity theft and impersonation.

CS Kindiki added that some criminal elements have also defrauded users through fake forex trade and job recruitment, and also distribute sexual content and expose minors to inappropriate content.

Ndolo said that in Kenya, the Communications Authority doesn’t regulate content on the platform, leading to the sharing of explicit content.


“The petitioner alleges that TikTok has been implicated in several privacy scandals over the past year for instance in 2019 the app was fined $5.7 million by the United States Federal Trade Commission for illegally collecting personal information from children under the age of 13,” the speaker stated.

The petitioner argued that TikTok was addictive and would lead to a decline in academic performance among young people.

“The petitioner asks that this house intervenes and takes immediate action to safeguard Kenyans from the negative effects arising from the use of the platform and altogether ban tick tock in Kenya,” Wetangula said.

The speaker added that he would forward the petition to the National Assembly Public Petitions Committee which will consider the petition and give a report to the house.


National Assembly Majority leader Kimani Ichung’wa disagreed with the views presented by the petitioner saying that he was also a user of the popular video content app.

All these apps are my teenage daughters who have downloaded them on my phone and shown me how to use them. As much as I feel that there could be an element of abuse of these apps, we cannot as a house, preside over the banning of any app. We cannot fight with technology,” Ich’ungwa shared his opinion.

He said that the petitioner should have sought the house’ help in creating a framework to regulate content on the app.

The MP added that TikTok is helping many young people earn a living and it is in the government’s interest to expand the digital space.


I have seen young Kenyans earning Sh300,000 to Sh400,000 on account of the people who are following them on TikTok. Therefore we just need to regulate the content that people who are under age should view and how they should use these apps,” he said.

"I'm of the very strong view that in this digital age, we cannot as a country afford to live in isolation. Therefore, it will be foolhardy even to contemplate not only TikTok but any other app," - Minory Leader Opiyo Wandayi.

"Social media is not only an avenue that is open to people who want to abuse the platform, it's also an avenue for many young Kenyans who are trying to eke a living. It's also an avenue for marketing," - Kirinyaga Woman Rep Njeri Maina.

"From an IT and audit perspective, I just want to inform the House that even if you ban any application in Kenya, if someone has access to VPN from any other country, they can still access that application" - Nominated MP Irene Mayaka.

"The business of this House should not be first to throw the baby with the bath water. TikTok as an entity has committed no crime, it is how it's used. The heart of that petition goes to the issues of morality, you can never legislate morality," - Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie.


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