In a move aimed at restoring social harmony, Nepal recently banned TikTok, only to witness an unexpected outcome – a 20% surge in internet traffic. While the ban intended to curb what the government deemed disruptive content, it inadvertently sparked a digital revolt, with users finding creative ways to bypass restrictions.
The VPN Tactic:
A key player in this cat-and-mouse game is the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). These tools allow users to sidestep local censorship by changing their location and connecting to TikTok via a different IP address. Despite the telecom regulator’s claim of blocking 95% of TikTok operations, users have proven to be a step ahead, with VPN usage contributing to the significant uptick in internet traffic.
Regulatory Response and Compliance:
The ban prompted major internet service providers, including Nepal Telecom and Ncell, to block TikTok in line with government directives. However, the effectiveness of the ban is proving to be an ongoing challenge. The authorities have established a committee to monitor compliance, highlighting the evolving nature of digital restrictions and the user community’s ability to adapt swiftly.
Security Risks of VPNs:
While VPNs have become the tool of choice for those determined to access TikTok, cybersecurity experts warn of potential risks. Not all VPNs are created equal, and using open or unknown VPNs could expose users to security breaches, including the injection of malicious code into their devices. The emphasis is on opting for authorized VPNs to minimize the risk of data leaks.
The Role of RegTech:
Amidst the ban and the users’ response, some experts propose an alternative approach – Regulatory Technology (RegTech). This involves leveraging information technology to enhance regulatory and compliance processes. Rather than relying solely on bans, governments could explore nuanced solutions to address digital challenges without stifling innovation.
Legal Challenges and Digital Rights:
Beyond the technological back-and-forth, the ban faces legal challenges. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments challenging the decision, highlighting the delicate balance between national security concerns and individual digital rights. Digital rights advocates argue that the ban infringes on freedom of expression, emphasizing the importance of preserving access to digital platforms.
Financial Implications and Bandwidth Consumption:
The ban on TikTok has practical implications beyond regulatory and legal concerns. TikTok reportedly consumes a staggering 40% of internet bandwidth in Nepal. While the ban may have been implemented with social harmony in mind, the unintended consequence could be a significant loss in revenue for the government.
The Future Landscape:
As the ban unfolds, Nepal’s government faces the complex task of navigating the dynamic digital landscape. Balancing regulatory control with user adaptability is a continual challenge, as demonstrated by the failed attempt to curb TikTok. The coming legal hearings will likely shape the future of internet governance in Nepal, posing questions about the efficacy of bans in an era where technology and user resilience are in constant flux.
In the meantime, users remain undeterred, utilizing creative means to access a platform that has become an integral part of their digital experience. The ban, intended to restore social harmony, has inadvertently fueled a digital revolution, prompting a reconsideration of regulatory strategies in an ever-evolving internet landscape.