KATHMANDU: Nepal Police is closely observing unscrupulous activities taking place in Nepal on account of the alleged misuse of Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, a police spokesperson said on Monday.
Along with Facebook and Twitter, the Chinese app TikTok has also faced criticism in Nepal and some have even called for banning it. However, Nepal Police says that it is now in the phase of effective monitoring to check the illegal activities taking place in the country by misusing the TikTok.
“We have received some complaints that TikTok is being grossly misused these days. Some people have also been nabbed in connection with online fraud by misusing TikTok,” Tek Prasad Rai, Nepal Police Spokesperson, told India Narrative on Monday.
On a question whether Nepali security authorities are in mood to ban TikTok in Nepal, he said “No.”
“For now, we are now monitoring illegal activities on TikTok. There is no immediate plan to ban the app,” he further said.
Recently, Nepal Police arrested five people on the charge of running gambling dens live on TikTok, which is owned by tech giant ByteDance.
“Five individuals have been arrested for running gambling dens live on TikTok and investigation is on,” Krishna Prasad Koirala, a spokesperson for Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office, told India Narrative.
The arrested online gamblers have been found doing transactions of over 5million Nepali rupees using digital wallets, according to media reports. The online gamblers have been found playing cards games on TikTok with their nicknames. Koirala said that these were among the first cases of arresting online gamblers on TikTok.
“More such incidents may have been taking place. We recently received similar complaints,” he said.
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The Nepal Police have launched probe against them in accordance with Section 125 of the National Penal (Code) Act, 2017, which prohibits gambling and betting in Nepal.
The number of TikTok users has seen a steep rise in Nepal since the country was first hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, according to observers.
According to Start.io, a mobile data platform, there are 2.2 million active TikTok users in Nepal, although activists and digital rights groups estimate a much higher number, Kathmandu Post newspaper reported.
Rajib Subba, a cybercrime expert and a former deputy inspector general of Nepal Police, said that with easy access to the internet, people are involved in illegal online gambling by using TikTok.
“Gambling is prohibited in Nepal so the online gambling is. Nepal Police must keep vigil on illegal activities taking place on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and TikTok,” he told India Narrative, adding that there is a need for proper mechanism to deal with the growing cybercrimes in Nepal.
(Santosh Ghimire is India Narrative’s Nepal correspondent based in Kathmandu)