Montana Becomes First US State to Ban TikTok

Montana Becomes First US State to Ban TikTok
Photo by Franck / Unsplash

On Wednesday, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte enacted legislation to ban the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok within the state, marking the first such move by a U.S. state to bar the popular short video app. The law, designed to protect Montana residents from potential intelligence gathering by China, is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2024, and is expected to face significant legal opposition.

A rancher rides out to collect some cows in rural Montana.
Photo by John Kakuk / Unsplash

In a direct impact on app distribution platforms, the new law will render it illegal for Google and Apple's app stores to host TikTok for users in Montana. However, the legislation will not penalize individual users of the app.

TikTok has gained immense popularity among American teens, with 67% of U.S. teenagers aged 13 to 17 reportedly using the app. This popularity is underscored by Pew Research Center data, which reveals that 16% of all teens use TikTok almost incessantly. TikTok has maintained that the "vast majority" of its users are adults, aged 18 and above.

Photo by Collabstr / Unsplash

In March, a Congressional committee questioned TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew about the possibility of the Chinese government accessing user data or influencing the content that Americans view on the app. However, nationwide calls for banning TikTok or giving the Biden administration the authority to regulate or ban the app have yet to gain traction in Congress.

Governor Gianforte, a Republican, stated that the legislation aligns with the "shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance." Montana, home to just over a million residents, has announced that TikTok may face penalties for each violation of the ban and additional fines of $10,000 per day for non-compliance.

We may earn commissions from ads and links on this page.

Tech giants Apple and Google, who host the TikTok app on their respective app stores, could also face fines of $10,000 per violation per day if they violate the ban. Neither company has responded to requests for comment as of the time of writing.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has criticized the law, labeling it "unconstitutional" and voicing concerns that it could be implemented on January 1 if the courts do not intervene.

The Capital, Washington DC
Photo by Darren Halstead / Unsplash

Keegan Medrano, policy director at the ACLU of Montana, issued a statement expressing concern that the ban infringes upon the free speech rights of Montanans who use the app for personal expression, information gathering, and small business operations.

The move follows a failed attempt by former President Donald Trump to ban new downloads of TikTok and WeChat in 2020 via a Commerce Department order. This initiative was blocked by multiple courts and never took effect.

TikTok's free speech allies include several Democratic members of Congress, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and First Amendment groups like the ACLU.

Industry group NetChoice's general counsel, Carl Szabo, also spoke out against the new law. He argued that the government cannot impede access to constitutionally protected speech, whether it appears in a newspaper, on a website, or via an app.

In addition to the TikTok ban, Governor Gianforte has also prohibited the use of all social media applications that collect and provide personal information or data to foreign adversaries on state government-issued devices.

In response to these concerns, TikTok is currently working on Project Texas, an initiative designed to create a standalone entity that will store American user data on U.S. servers operated by Oracle.

Disclaimer: Some information on this site may be considered attorney advertising under your state’s laws and ethical rules. This legal news site and its content is for general information only and is not legal advice. Information on this site may be incomplete or out-of-date.

No attorney-client relationship is created between you and any attorney who publishes content or online forms on this site. Hiring a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

🤸TikTok dares are putting young lives at risk with dangerous challenges
A stunt being shared on viral video platform TikTok has caused serious injury among teenagers in the UK and US. Sarah Platt, a teenage hockey player, seriously injured herself after her friends ‘peer pressured’ her into trying the ‘skull breaker’ challenge while at a hockey tournament. The once-vir…
📲Parents and Guardians of Teens Suffering from Psychological Harm Due to Social Media Usage May Be Able to Seek Justice and Compensation
Spending time on social media has become almost a way of life for most teens — scrolling through Instagram feeds of their friends, Snapping at their life, and making wacky dances on TikTok for hours a day. If you have seen “Social Dilemma” or “The Great Hack,” you can see how
Kia Boyz TikTok Challenge” - A Dangerous Trend Plaguing Our Cities
City officials across the nation have issued a new warning concerning a hazardous TikTok trend that has taken the internet by storm. Dubbed the “Kia Boyz TikTok Challenge,” this ill-advised and criminal trend has spread like wildfire among teenagers, encouraging them to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicle…