Why The Montana TikTok Ban Isn’t Possible And How It Violates The First Amendment

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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.’’

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.


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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. 

In this photo illustration, the social media application logo, TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on March 05, 2019 in Paris, France. The social network broke the rules for the protection of children's online privacy (COPPA) and was fined $ 5.7 million. The fact TikTok criticized is quite serious in the United States, the platform, which currently has more than 500 million users worldwide, collected data that should not have asked minors. TikTok, also known as Douyin in China, is a media app for creating and sharing short videos. Owned by ByteDance, Tik Tok is a leading video platform in Asia, United States, and other parts of the world. In 2018, the application gained popularity and became the most downloaded app in the U.S. in October 2018.
In 2018, the application gained popularity and became the most downloaded app in the U.S. in October 2018. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

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.

TikTok, Montana, Ban
In this photo illustration a TikTok logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen in Athens, Greece on May 7, 2023. (Photo illustration by Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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.”

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