Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill SB 419, which effectively bans the social network TikTok in the state. This is the first such ban in the United States. The new law requires app stores to remove TikTok from their offerings for Montana residents, reports The Verge.
Governor Gianforte justified the ban as an action to protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, as he wrote on Twitter. In response to the new law, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said that the ban violates Montanans’ First Amendment rights.
The new law unequivocally states that TikTok cannot operate in Montana and prohibits app stores from offering the option to download the app. The legislation does not impose any penalties on TikTok users but imposes fines on TikTok and app store operators of $10,000 per violation per day.
It is not yet clear how this unprecedented ban will work from a legal point of view. While TikTok has not officially announced the lawsuit, it has called the law “a government overreach” and has vowed to challenge it. NetChoice, the internet trade association that represents giants like Meta, Twitter, and Google, says the law is “unconstitutional” and has a history of filing lawsuits against similar bills, which could make Montana next in line.
Governor Gianforte’s actions are not limited to TikTok. He labeled other apps, including Telegram, WeChat, and the Temu shopping app, as linked to “foreign adversaries” and ordered their use banned on government devices and all state-owned businesses. All programs, except for Telegram by Pavel Durov, based in Dubai, are associated with Chinese companies.
Effective June 1, Montana’s new policy prohibits the use of forbidden apps on all state devices, as well as any devices used by third-party firms doing business in the state. Programs already installed on such devices should be “immediately removed”. It’s worth noting that Gov. Gianforte already blocked TikTok on government devices and public networks in December, and this new law expands the scope to include additional apps.