Montana just became the first state to attempt to ban TikTok. This comes as many are striking down the app on public devices in government, but what does this mean for the future of the platform?
New legislation kicked in that is the most extreme prohibition of the app in the nation’s history, and many are predicting that this will face legal challenges. Governor of Montana, Greg Gianforte, will sign this bill to ban the app starting January 1st 2024.
People across the web were shocked to hear that Montana of all states has become the first to attempt the ban on TikTok. Governor Greg Gianforte tweeted, ‘To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana.’’
To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana.
— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) May 17, 2023
Now back in February of 2023, Montana Legislature actually introduced a bill leading to the months of debate around TikTok. The proposal, which would affect a large amount of users on the platform, was significantly escalated to a national rush to ban TikTok on government devices based on concerns about the company’s owner Bytedance.
There has been a large discussion regarding this bill, and this sets the stage on what the United States might actually encounter if lawmakers or even the White House attempt to push forward on the nationwide ban of TikTok. As of now, TikTok has nearly 7,000 employees in the US and has been fighting back on the legislature in Montana for quite some time.
Throughout their efforts, those in Montana have seen ads featuring small businesses that use TikTok to show how strong and effective the platform really can be at times. Users have also been given prewritten emails so they could even contact Greg Gianforte about opposing this bill.
If this does proceed, those in Montana will actually not be able to download the platform. However, a trade group funded by both Apple and Google are pushing back on this. Technet even stated that app stores ‘do not have the ability to geofence apps’ on a state by state basis, making this impossible for Apple and Google to prevent TikTok from being downloaded in the state.
Brooke Oberwetter, a spokesperson for TikTok actually stated, “Governor Gianforte has signed a bill that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state.”
If TikTok does continue to operate within the state of Montana, this bill gives legislation to fine TikTok for allowing people to still download the app. The could actually be close to nearly $10,000 per day if it remains available to users. TikTok currently has more than 150 million US users who are also opposing the Unites States from banning the app overall.
In the past, Congress went as far as grilling Shou Chew, TikTok’s chief executive, for nearly five hours during a March hearing that focused largely on the app’s Chinese ownership.
Quite a few free speech groups have been quick to respond to the bill as well. The American Civil Liberties Union said on Wednesday that the legislation ‘flouts the First Amendment.’
They issued a statement saying “The government cannot impose a total ban on a communications platform like TikTok unless it is necessary to prevent extremely serious, immediate harm to national security. “But there’s no public evidence of harm that would meet the high bar set by the U.S. and Montana Constitutions, and a total ban would not be the only option for addressing such harm if it did exist.”
As of now, the Montana bill says the ban would become void if TikTok is acquired by or even sold to a company that is not incorporated in a country ‘designated as a foreign adversary.”