Montana is the first US state to ban TikTok

  • Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has signed a bill banning TikTok within the state starting January 2024.
  • Montana is the first US state to implement such a ban, but it is still unclear whether it is entirely legal.
  • The Montana Governor is also banning Telegram, WeChat, and Temu, citing “ties to foreign adversaries”.

Earlier this year TikTok CEO Shou Chew appeared before the US Congress to defend his social media platform against allegations that it has deep ties to the Chinese government, as well as spying on US citizens and harvesting their data for potentially nefarious ends.

The appearance only made the congress people look bad, and was once again a display of just how out of touch these politicians were when it comes to technology.

That has not stopped some from pushing on with their plans to ban TikTok, as Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has signed a bill banning TikTok within the state starting January 2024.

“To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana,” he proudly tweeted out yesterday. He also shared screenshots of the directive he gave Montana’s chief information officer to ban the platform.

The bill, referred to as SB 419 simply states that, “TikTok may not operate within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana.” It adds that mobile app stores are banned from offering, “The option to download the TikTok mobile application.”

As The Verge notes, an earlier draft of the law would have banned the internet service providers of Montana citizens from accessing the app, but it did not make it into the final version of the document.

This therefore brings into question the legality of the ban, something that TikTok is acutely aware of, but it is unclear if the company aims to get litigious too.

“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,” responded spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter on hearing the news.

“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,” she added.

Governor Gianforte has his eyes set on more than just TikTok too, with Telegram, WeChat, Temu, and other apps with alleged ties to foreign states set to be banned in Montana. Come 1st June, officials and organisations of the state will not be allowed to access the aforementioned applications on their devices, with the wider ban happening at the beginning of next year.

Again, the legality of this law is yet to be determined, but given that it only takes effect at the beginning of 2024, Gianforte may be looking to other governors to follow his lead in the coming months and with enough momentum, push through with a wider ban on TikTok.

It looks like many TikTok, Telegram, WeChat, and other app users in Montana will be turning to VPNs to get around this new law.

[Image – Photo by K O’Shaughnessy on Unsplash]


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