United States: Montana, the first state to ban TikTok

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte announced in a tweet: “To protect the personal and private data of Montana residents from the Chinese Communist Party,” TikTok is now banned in this state. Located in the northwest of the United States and with just over a million inhabitants, Montana is the first to enact a law banning the video-sharing application. This first announcement marks the start of a likely legal battle all the way to Washington, where Congress is considering banning the popular app nationwide.

The conflict, which opposes the world’s leading power to the only application of Chinese origin to have really made its mark abroad, has already led more than half of American states to ban TikTok on the smartphones of civil servants last January.

Owned by the Chinese group ByteDance, the application, used by 150 million Americans, is in the crosshairs of many elected officials for months. They see her as a threat to the country’s national security, potentially handing over sensitive data to Beijing.

In addition to the issue of data and misinformation, elected officials accuse TikTok of harmful effects on the health of the youngest (addiction, depression). Some Democratic representatives have replied that other social networks, such as Instagram, deserve to be regulated on all these subjects.

Concretely, concerning Montana, the ban must start on January 1, 2024. From this date, the mobile application stores (from Apple and Google) must no longer distribute TikTok there. At the risk of exposing themselves to financial penalties of 10,000 dollars per day for each violation. On the other hand, users will not be worried.

TikTok on the counterattack

This law “infringes the rights of citizens of Montana” in terms of freedom of expression, reacted a spokesperson for TikTok on Wednesday, referring to the First Amendment to the American Constitution. “The constitutionality of this text will be decided in the courts. We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana,” she said ahead of the vote.

The powerful civil rights ociation ACLU has also accused the state of censorship. “With this ban, Governor Gianforte and the Montana Legislature are trampling on the freedom of speech of hundreds of thousands of Montana residents who use this app to express themselves, find information and promote their small business, on behalf of anti-China sentiment,” Keegan Medrano, an official with the local ACLU branch, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The law would be invalidated if TikTok were to be bought by an American company (or a country not enemy of the United States). The White House has encouraged TikTok to seek this type of solution if it wants to be able to stay in the country.


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