Overview of Montana’s Ban on TikTok
HELENA, Mont. — Montana became the first state in the U.S. to completely ban TikTok on Wednesday when Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a measure that’s more sweeping than any other state’s attempts to curtail the social media app. The measure is expected to be challenged legally and will serve as a testing ground for the TikTok-free America that many national lawmakers have envisioned.
The Governor of Montana announced that they are implementing measures to prevent the Chinese Communist Party from obtaining individuals’ private and personal data. This action is considered as the most stringent among all U.S. states. There was no immediate response from TikTok when asked to comment. However, the app has expressed that it will challenge the right of Montana locals to use their service.
Some people like politicians, the FBI and others worry that the app TikTok might be used by China to get information about Americans. They also worry it could be used to tell lies about Beijing. TikTok has said this never happened.
The Reasons Behind the Ban and How it Will Protect Personal Data
In December, Montana blocked people from using the TikTok app on government phones or computers. The governor said that using TikTok could be dangerous because it might put state data in danger. More than half of U.S. states and the federal government have a similar ban.
On Wednesday, Gianforte said no one can use apps from foreign countries on state equipment or businesses in Montana. Apps like WeChat from China and Telegram Messenger from Russia are not allowed after June 1.
Gianforte wanted to make the TikTok bill cover more apps from countries that are not friendly. But the Legislature gave him the bill when the session was over, so he could not add any new ideas.
Montana has a new law that stops people from downloading TikTok in the state. If someone tries to give people access to the app or lets them download it, they can be fined $10,000 per day. But this does not include users who are trying to get the app.
Some people think the government is doing too much. They say it would be easy for Montana people to get around the ban by using something called a virtual private network. This helps hide their internet activity. But Montana officials say that they use something called geofencing technology on apps that allow gambling online. This won’t work in states where online gambling is illegal in some states.
TikTok, which has said it has a plan to protect U.S. users, has vowed to fight back against the ban, along with small-business owners who said they use the app for advertising to help expand their businesses and reach more customers. The ACLU of Montana opposed the bill, arguing it was an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.
The app’s fun, goofy videos and ease of use have made it immensely popular, and U.S. tech giants like Snapchat and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, see it as a competitive threat.
Starting January 1, 2024, it will be illegal for Google and Apple’s app stores to offer TikTok in Montana. However, individuals who use the app will not be penalized. This ban is likely to face legal challenges. ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, did not say whether they were going to file lawsuits when asked by Reuters, At the moment you can still play your favorite online games without leaving the app, TikTok is making a lot of money on cooperation with online casino games for money and this will push TikTok to compete for users with Montana.
What Could be Done to Mitigate the Risk of Chinese Communist Party Access to Private Information
TikTok said that the new law in Montana does not follow the First Amendment and it will try to protect its users. TikTok has a lot of American users, over 150 million. Some people want to ban this app because they are worried about China’s influence on it.
The app has become wildly popular with teens. According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 use TikTok, and 16% of all teens say they use the app almost constantly.
TikTok Has Said That the “Vast Majority” of its Users are Over the Age of 18
In March, someone asked the CEO of TikTok if the Chinese government can get user data or control what people see on the app. However, nothing happened to stop TikTok in the United States. Mr. Gianforte said a bill will help protect people from China’s spying.
TikTok said they did not give data to the Chinese government and that they would not do it if asked. Montana is a state with 1 million people. If TikTok does something wrong in Montana, they could get fined and have to pay $10,000 every day until it stops.
You can download the short video app on Apple and Google devices. If they break the law, they could get fined $10,000 every day. Apple and Google didn’t answer when asked about this. The ACLU said it is not allowed by the law and will start on January 1 if a court does not do something about it.
Governor Gianforte and the Montana legislature have made it so people in Montana cannot use an app to talk, share information, or run their own business. This is wrong because many people in Montana are being stopped from speaking freely. Keegan Medrano from the ACLU of Montana said that this was done because of anti-Chinese feelings.
But the courts said no. People like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the American Civil Liberties Union said it was not fair because it went against freedom of speech.
Industry group NetChoice general counsel Carl Szabo also criticized the new law. “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.” he said in a statement, adding that Montana “ignores the U.S. Constitution, due process and free speech.”
Gianforte, who had sought to convince the state legislature to broaden the ban to other social media applications that provide certain data to foreign adversaries, also prohibited the use of all social media applications that collect and provide personal information or data to foreign adversaries on state government-issued devices.
TikTok is working on an initiative called Project Texas, which creates a standalone entity to store American user data in the U.S. on servers operated by U.S. tech company Oracle (ORCL.N).