TikTok, the popular video-sharing app, has taken legal action against the state of Montana in the United States by filing a lawsuit in federal court. The company aims to prevent the implementation of a ban on its platform scheduled to begin in 2024. TikTok argues that the ban infringes upon constitutionally protected free speech rights and lacks a valid basis.
The ban, signed into law by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte on May 17, was enacted with the goal of safeguarding Montanans’ personal data from the Chinese Communist Party. However, TikTok asserts that the state’s measures are unfounded and speculative. In addition to TikTok’s lawsuit, five users of the app have also filed a separate suit, claiming that the ban violates their free speech rights and exceeds the state’s authority.
TikTok’s legal challenge seeks a declaration from the federal court that Montana’s ban is unconstitutional and requests an injunction to prevent its enforcement. The company draws a parallel between banning TikTok and censoring a newspaper like the Wall Street Journal based on its ownership or published ideas. TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has faced allegations of being influenced by the Chinese government and serving as a tool for espionage. The company strongly denies these accusations.
The lawsuit against Montana carries broader significance as it becomes the first US state to impose a ban on TikTok. The outcome of the legal battle will serve as a crucial test for potential national bans on the platform, an idea gaining momentum among lawmakers in Washington. The Montana ban includes penalties of $10,000 per day for each violation, encompassing actions such as accessing or downloading TikTok. Additionally, Apple and Google will be required to remove the app from their respective app stores, and companies may face daily fines.
This latest ban in Montana adds to the ongoing conflict between TikTok and various Western governments. The app has already been banned on government devices in the United States, Canada, and several European countries. The outcome of the legal battle in Montana will have broader implications for TikTok’s future in the country, especially in relation to national security concerns and free speech rights.