Kyrgyzstan has reportedly blocked access to the app due to concerns over its impact on children FILE PHOTO: Street life in city Uzgen, Kyrgyzstan. © Martin Zwick / REDA&CO / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Kyrgyzstan has blocked the video-sharing platform TikTok over lax content regulations and concerns that the app may be detrimental to children’s mental health, local media reported on Wednesday.

Bishkek’s Ministry of Digital Development requested that telecom operators restrict access to the popular service as of Thursday, news outlets reported, citing a statement from the ministry. The decision was reportedly based on recommendations issued by the State Committee for National Security.

According to officials, the Kyrgyz branch of TikTok “lacks a systematic and principled approach to content censorship,” particularly in “the children’s information space.” The Chinese-owned social media platform also failed to adhere to a law on information “deemed detrimental to children’s health and development,” the statement added.

Many users have reported being unable to access TikTok service as of Thursday morning, according to news outlet

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international NGO defending the right to freedom of information, criticized “the arbitrary blocking” of the popular social media platform by the Kyrgyz authorities. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), RSF claimed that the authorities restricted the right to information online “under the pretext of protecting minors.”

Beijing slams proposed US TikTok ban as ‘bandit logic’ Beijing slams proposed US TikTok ban as ‘bandit logic’

It is not the first attempt to bloc TikTok in Kyrgyzstan. In August last year, the Ministry of Culture announced its intention to ban the platform because it allegedly drives young people “to replicate certain actions depicted in these clips, some of which endanger their lives.” No ban, however, was implemented at the time.

Critics argue the restrictions will harm small and medium-sized businesses that promote their services and goods through TikTok. They also claim that targeting the app will not solve any negative impact of the internet on children.

TikTok did not immediately respond to the ban, but has previously insisted it has safeguards to moderate content and protect minors.

The Chinese-owned social media platform is also facing a possible ban in the US. The House of Representatives passed legislation in March that described TikTok as a “national security threat” over concerns that the Chinese government could force the platform’s owner, ByteDance, to hand over the data of US app users.

If enacted by the Senate and President Joe Biden, the bill would force ByteDance to sell TikTok within six months or face a nationwide ban. Biden has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk. China’s Foreign Ministry has slammed the vote as an “act of bullying.” (RT)