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Kenyans debate over TikTok ban petition

Kenyans debate over TikTok ban petition
FILE - The TikTok app logo, in Tokyo, on Sept. 28, 2020.   -  
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Kiichiro Sato/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved


A petition urging the prohibition of TikTok has ignited a lively discussion within Kenya's parliamentary and public spheres.

On Tuesday, the Kenyan parliament engaged in a comprehensive debate surrounding the petition, which was submitted by Kenyan citizen Bob Ndolo.

Mr. Ndolo implored Members of Parliament to consider outlawing TikTok, asserting that the platform poses a challenge to the fundamental cultural and religious values of Kenya.

In his submission, the petitioner highlighted the inadequate regulation of TikTok within Kenya, attributing it to the surge of offensive and unsuitable content pervading the platform.

Moses Wetangula, the Speaker of the Kenyan parliament, conveyed, "The petition emphasizes that although TikTok has gained substantial popularity among Kenya's youth, the nature of content being disseminated on the platform is unsuitable. This trend, including the promotion of violence, explicit sexual content, hate speech, profanity, and offensive conduct, poses a substantial threat to Kenya's cultural and religious values."

Mr. Ndolo further stressed that the ban would function as a safeguard, shielding Kenyans from TikTok's adverse repercussions, which encompass addiction, potentially disrupting the education and mental well-being of students. He also expressed concerns about potential illicit collection or dissemination of personal data of Kenyan citizens by the app.

Within the parliamentary debate, a dichotomy of opinions emerged. While some lawmakers and citizens aligned with the proposed ban, others voiced reservations, citing potential setbacks to Kenya's technological advancement and the livelihoods of numerous young content creators on TikTok.

Lawmakers such as Kimani Ichung'wah, the majority leader in parliament, have advocated for a different approach. Rather than an outright ban, they proposed more rigorous content oversight on the platform.

The TikTok ban petition has ignited a crucial dialogue, reflecting the intricate balance between cultural preservation, technological progress, and the digital landscape's impact on society. As the discussion continues, Kenyan stakeholders grapple with navigating the path forward that best serves the nation's values and aspirations.

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