A bill has been signed by Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte on Wednesday banning short-form video hosting service, TikTok in the state.
In a tweet, Gianforte who officially made it the first state to ban the social media application, noted that he has banned TikTok in Montana “to protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party,” CNN reports.
Although this development is expected to be challenged in court, as the controversial law marks the furthest step yet by a state government to restrict TikTok over perceived security concerns and comes as some federal lawmakers have called for a national ban of TikTok.
Having TikTok as its target, the bill, which will take effect in January and prohibits the app from operating within state lines.
Another interesting aspect is that the law also outlines potential fines of $10,000 per day for violators, including app stores found to host the social media application.
With a close look at the lawmakers’ decision, Last month, in Montana’s House of Representatives, they voted 54-43 to pass the bill, known as SB419, sending it to Gianforte’s desk.
However, TikTok, has responded, promising to push to defend the rights of users in Montana.
In statement to CNN, it said, “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. We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.”
Sources have revealed that TikTok faces growing criticism for its ties to China.
Regardless of the fact that there is so far no evidence that the Chinese government has ever accessed personal information of US-based TikTok users, a number of US officials have expressed fears that the Chinese government could potentially access US data via TikTok for spying purposes.
Although, NetChoice, a technology trade group that includes TikTok as a member, called the Montana bill unconstitutional.
Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s general counsel said,
“The government may not block our ability to access constitutionally protected speech – whether it is in a newspaper, on a website or via an app. In implementing this law, Montana ignores the U.S. Constitution, due process and free speech by denying access to a website and apps their citizens want to use.”
The ACLU also pushed back on the bill, releasing a statement saying that “with this ban, Governor Gianforte and the Montana legislature have trampled on the free speech of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves, gather information, and run their small business in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment.”
On Wednesday, Gianforte signed a separate executive order that prohibits the use of any social media application “tied to foreign adversaries” on government devices, including ByteDance-owned CapCut and Lemon8, and Telegram Messenger, which was created while the founder lived in Russia, but is based in Dubai.