Montana has become the first state in the United States to pass a law banning TikTok, the popular video-sharing app owned by Chinese company ByteDance. Governor Greg Gianforte signed the legislation, which prohibits mobile application stores from offering TikTok within the state starting next year.
The move is part of a growing wave of actions against TikTok in the US, driven by concerns over its ties to China and potential national security risks. The federal government, along with more than half of US states, has already banned TikTok on government devices.
The Biden administration has even threatened a national ban unless ByteDance sells its shares. Despite TikTok’s denial of sharing data with the Chinese government, scrutiny has intensified, prompting these actions.
TikTok responded to the Montana ban, stating that it infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people and vowed to defend the rights of its users.
The new law in Montana will come into effect on January 1 and prohibits downloads of TikTok in the state. Violators, including app stores and TikTok itself, will face fines of $10,000 per day for each instance of offering
access to the platform or app. The penalties, however, will not apply to users. Opponents argue that the ban may face legal challenges and criticize it as government overreach.
They also point out that users can easily bypass the ban by using a virtual private network (VPN). Internet freedom advocates and others have raised concerns about the crackdown, seeing it as a form of censorship.
In addition to TikTok, Governor Gianforte’s legislation also prohibits the use of social media apps that collect and provide personal information to foreign adversaries on governmentissued devices. The ban includes WeChat and Telegram Messenger. Critics consider this measure unconstitutional, violating the right to access protected online speech.
Montana’s ban on TikTok is likely to be a test case that could shape the future of the app’s availability in the US. The debate surrounding the ban reflects broader concerns about
national security, data privacy, and the balance between regulation and individual freedoms.