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Montana Bans TikTok, TikTok Fights Back

Montana Bans TikTok, TikTok Fights Back

Sarah Hardacre
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has signed a bill to ban TikTok on all devices as of January 1, 2024. Within 24 hours of the signing, TikTok creators began raising lawsuits.

In April, Montana’s House of Representatives voted 54-43 in favor of passing the bill, which advanced the bill to the Governor. The bill focuses on prohibiting TikTok from operating within the state. Marketplaces that allow the download of the app are subject to fines of $10,000 per day for violations. However, the new law does not prohibit the use of the app.

Gianforte tweeted that he enacted the ban “to protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party.”

Opponents to the law, including the ACLU and NetChoice, a technology trade group, have said that it is unconstitutional and infringes on First Amendment rights to free speech. A lawsuit filed by TikTok creators also claims that “the ban unconstitutionally conflicts with federal authority to set foreign policy and to oversee interstate commerce,” and that the law violates the rights of TikTok users protected by the 14th Amendment.

TikTok responded a week after the ban was signed by filing a federal lawsuit to have it overturned. In part, the lawsuit explains that the company is “challenging Montana’s unconstitutional ban to protect [its] business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana.”

TikTok has responded to the concerns of the US and other governments by launching Project Texas, an initiative to implement data-security plans, including a plan to house all American user data within the US.

TikTok has over 150 million active users in the US, some of whom gain their livelihood through their TikTok communities. Should the ban move forward, users in Montana would still be able to use TikTok on their devices – however, they won’t be able to download updates, which could include security patches.

Many governments and over half of the US states have banned TikTok on government-issued devices as a precaution. Although there is no evidence that the Chinese government has accessed or tried to access TikTok user data, many national security experts still believe in investigating TikTok’s ties to China.

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