Montana: First State to Ban TikTok

This Wednesday, Governor Greg Gianforte signed Senate Bill 419, stating that he wants to prevent the private information of the people of the state from being compromised.

Gov. Gianforte addressed the role of the Chinese government in this potential threat. He said, “The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented.” Although laws in China do allow the government to access and look at any company’s records of customers, there has never been tangible evidence that the Chinese government has ever done so with TikTok’s user data.

This is not the first ban of the social media app; last December Gov. Gianforte banned TikTok on all state government devices. That same month, President Biden also signed similar legislation to ban TikTok from being downloaded on government devices. The US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK have all banned the app from federal government devices due to national security concerns. President Biden has also been vocal about a nationwide ban being possible if the parent company of the social media platform, ByteDance, does not find an American buyer.

Gov. Gianforte said on Wednesday that this state ban will encompass “all social media applications that collect and provide users’ personal information or data to a foreign adversary, or a person or entity located within a country designated as a foreign adversary.” Bill 419 also makes any application stores that offer TikTok subject to daily fines. Platforms like the Apple App Store and Google Play Store could face up to $10,000 in fines per day the ban is violated.

The state-wide ban for Montana is set to officially take effect on January 1st of 2024. However, TikTok is not expected to go down without a fight. It is likely that the bill will be challenged in federal court by the social media company and partners such as the American Civil Liberties Union, based on the grounds that the ban is unconstitutional.

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