What you need to know
- TikTok has been officially banned for all residents in Montana.
- The state's governor has signed a bill that makes the platform's operation within the state unlawful.
- Montana will formally implement the law beginning in January 2024, unless it's overruled by a court.
Montana has made history after Governor Greg Gianforte approved an unprecedented state-wide ban on TikTok, which is set to make the app unavailable to all residents in the state starting next year.
Gianforte announced his decision on Twitter a month after the state's lawmakers passed the bill by a vote of 54-43. The goal is to protect the personal and private data of all state residents from the Chinese Communist Party, the governor tweeted.
To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana.May 17, 2023
This is the first state-wide ban imposed on the ByteDance-owned platform in the United States over concerns that it's spying on users and sending personal data to China. "The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented," Gianforte said in a statement.
However, no solid evidence has yet been presented to back up claims that the Chinese government has accessed the data of TikTok users.
Any entity, including app stores that make the app available to download, will be fined up to $10,000 per day per violation. However, this won't include individuals using the app, although it will likely make it more difficult to download in the state, as TikTok will be fined if it continues operating within the state.
Montana is set to implement the new law beginning on January 1, 2024, unless overturned by a court. TikTok is expected to contest the ban in federal court. In a tweet, a company representative said that the new law "infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people" in the state.
"We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana," TikTok's representative added.
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) also voiced the same concern, saying in a tweet that the ban violates "the free speech rights of hundreds of thousands of people in Montana who use the app."
Before the bill was signed into law, Montana had already prohibited the use of TikTok on all government devices in accordance with countrywide legislation approved by the US Senate last December. Now, in addition to TikTok, the state has now banned the "use of apps tied to foreign adversaries on state devices and networks."
According to Montana's official state website, the governor directed the state’s chief information officer and executive agency directors to impose the ban on ByteDance-owned CapCut, Lemon8, Telegram, Temu, and Tencent-owned WeChat.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.