Why Was TikTok Banned in Montana?: To safeguard its citizens from Chinese intelligence collection, the state of Montana became the first in the United States to restrict the use of the famous short video app TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.
TikTok will be banned in Montana, but users will not face legal repercussions. The ban only applies to software retailers like Google Play and the Apple Software Store. The ban will take effect on January 1, 2024, and will almost certainly be challenged in court.
The Chinese technology company ByteDance, which owns the video-sharing platform TikTok, did not provide a response when Reuters asked if it intended to take legal action.
The video-sharing platform TikTok released a statement earlier citing the new rule” infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok,” and predicted it would “continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.”
There are mounting calls for the app TikTok, which has more than 150 million users in the United States, to be banned countrywide due to worries about potential influence from the Chinese government over the site. These calls are coming from lawmakers in the United States as well as state officials.
The app has seen an explosion in popularity among adolescents. The Pew Research Center found that 67% of teenagers in the United States aged 13 to 17 use the app TikTok, and 16% of all teenagers say they use the app almost daily. According to TikTok’s own statements, the “vast majority” of its users are adults over the age of 18.
The CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, was questioned by a congressional committee in March over the possibility that the Chinese government may have access to user data or may be able to exert influence over what content is displayed to users in the United States.
However, efforts to ban TikTok on a national scale or to grant the administration of former President Joe Biden new powers to crack down on or ban TikTok have not advanced in Congress.
Republican Senator Greg Gianforte of Montana claimed the law would be “our shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance.”
If TikTok breaks the restriction in Montana, the company could be hit with fines of up to $10,000 per day. The state is home to a little over a million people.
The mobile video app is available for download on Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Google smartphones through their respective app stores. Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL.O) Google could each be fined $10,000 for each day they breach the restriction.
Both Apple and Google have been reached for comment but have yet to react.
The ACLU has called the law “unconstitutional” and warned that it will take effect on January 1 if the courts do not stop it.
“With this ban, Governor Gianforte and the Montana legislature have trampled on the free speech of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves, gather information, and run their small business in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment,” Statement from ACLU of Montana policy director Keegan Medrano.
The attempt by former President Donald Trump to restrict new downloads of TikTok and WeChat through an order issued by the Commerce Department in 2020 was stopped by numerous courts and so was never allowed to go into force.
A number of Democratic members of Congress, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as First Amendment organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have come out in support of TikTok’s efforts to protect free expression.
Carl Szabo, general counsel for the industry association NetChoice, also voiced his opposition to the new rule. “The government may not block our ability to access constitutionally protected speech – whether it is in a newspaper, on a website or via an app.” In a statement, he elaborated, saying, “Montana” ignores the U.S. Constitution, due process and free speech.”
Gianforte, who had been attempting to convince the state legislature to expand the ban to include other social media applications that provide certain data to foreign adversaries, also prohibited the use of any and all social media applications that collect and provide personal information or data to foreign adversaries on devices that are issued by the state government.
Project Texas is an effort that is currently being worked on by TikTok. The goal of this project is to create an independent entity that will keep the data of American users in the United States, on servers that are operated by the United States-based technology corporation Oracle (ORCL.N).