KATHMANDU: The recent decision by the government to ban the Chinese social networking app TikTok has encountered unexpected hurdles, with the ban proving less effective than anticipated.
Despite the government’s directive and the subsequent instructions from the Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) to internet service providers, TikTok continues to thrive on the mobile phones of numerous users.
The ban has not halted the creation and consumption of TikTok content, with video creators and viewers persisting in their activities.
While there has been a slight reduction in the flow of videos, a complete cessation remains elusive. So, why has the TikTok ban faced challenges in full implementation?
Following the government’s ban, the NTA swiftly communicated instructions to internet service providers (ISPs), urging them to shut down TikTok within 24 hours.
While the majority of companies complied with the government’s directives, a notable few are yet to follow suit.
Intriguingly, users have found alternative means to access TikTok even if their service providers have not shut it down.
A prominent method employed by users to circumvent the ban is through the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
On the first day of the TikTok ban, VPNs soared to the top of Google search queries, providing a workaround that operates outside official licensing channels.
Typically, internet service providers allocate an ‘IP address’ to users, acting as a gateway for accessing internet-based content. The content accessed is usually within the control of the ISP.
However, when a VPN is utilized on a mobile device, it severs the link between the user and the ISP by providing an alternative IP address from another country.
This renders the user ‘anonymous’ and untraceable, beyond the control or detection of the internet service provider or any other entities.
VPN, an acronym for Virtual Private Network, is employed to maintain user privacy by redirecting their location.
It is commonly used for activities like hacking and accessing restricted internet content, effectively unlocking blocked applications.
The use of VPNs makes it difficult for cyber bureaus or regulatory bodies to trace user activity.
However, utilizing a VPN carries certain risks, as sensitive data is exchanged with the VPN provider company.
These companies often lack an official location, a fact mentioned in the details on the ‘Play Store’ during VPN downloads, indicating potential concerns regarding the use of VPN users’ data.
VPN providers collect personal information, including email addresses and user IDs, which can be utilized at any time.
Despite mobile settings indicating that photos and videos are optional, VPNs can access this content without restriction.
Alternatively, users can access TikTok without a VPN. This involves navigating to mobile settings, selecting ‘Private DNS,’ choosing a ‘Private DNS Provider,’ and entering “VPN.Edgard.com” in the ‘Provider Host Name’ option.
This adjustment allows TikTok to function again, although this setting is predominantly available on Android phones and not on iPhones.