Montana Becomes First State to Ban TikTok Completely: What You Need to Know
Montana has become the first state in the United States to completely ban TikTok after Republican Governor Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law on Wednesday. The legislation, known as SB 419, extends beyond government devices to personal ones, stating that “TikTok may not operate within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana.” The law, set to take effect on January 1, 2024, also prevents app companies like Apple and Google from offering TikTok for download. The ban will impose penalties of $10,000 per day for any violation, and app stores and the app itself would face the fine, but not users. Montana's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and NetChoice, a trade group whose members include Google and TikTok, have decried the law as unconstitutional, and the ban will likely face legal challenges on constitutional questions of free speech and restrictions on statutes that single out one company.
The ban comes amid growing concerns about TikTok's ties to China and fears that its Beijing-based owner, ByteDance, may be open to interference from the Chinese government and therefore presents a national security risk. Some believe the Chinese authorities have access to TikTok user data belonging to US citizens and can even influence the app's algorithm to serve up pro-China content. The allegations have consistently been denied by TikTok.
Numerous US officials have voiced concerns about the possibility of the Chinese government exploiting TikTok to obtain US data for espionage, but there is currently no proof that the Chinese government has ever retrieved personal data of TikTok users who are based in the US. Montana lawmakers have claimed that TikTok's ties to ByteDance, a Chinese company, put the personal data of US users at risk. The company has long denied that it would turn over such data to the Chinese government and has invested more than $1 billion into Project Texas to address data security concerns raised by US regulators.
The ban will also affect other social media applications tied to foreign adversaries, including WeChat, which is owned by China-based Tencent, and Telegram Messenger, which was founded in Russia. The ban will apply to government devices and all state business.
Critics of the ban, including TikTok and the ACLU, argue that it tramples on free speech and constitutional rights. The ACLU called the law “anti-Chinese sentiment” and said that “elected officials do not have the right to selectively censor entire social media apps based on their country of origin.” Tech companies also fear that the ban will be impossible to implement.
TikTok had already been prohibited on government devices by the federal government and state agencies in Montana. The Biden administration has threatened a national ban unless its parent company sells its shares. Over half of US states and the federal government have instituted legislation banning the app on government-owned devices.
0. “Montana's TikTok ban and school book bans raise First Amendment concerns” CBS News, 18 May. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/video/why-fla-school-district-faces-book-ban-blowback/
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