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TikTok Pushes Back on Montana Law Banning Its App

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TikTok Pushes Back on Montana Law Banning Its App
TikTok Pushes Back on Montana Law Banning Its App

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Popular social media company TikTok Inc. has filed a federal lawsuit against Montana after the state passed a law last week prohibiting the app from being downloaded within its borders.

TikTok Sues Montana

TikTok has responded to the state of Montana by initiating legal action, claiming that the ban is an unconstitutional infringement on First Amendment rights to free speech and expression.

The company also maintained that it adheres to robust data privacy measures and has tried to address concerns raised by regulators.

TikTok’s spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said: “To defend our company and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana, we are contesting Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban.”

She added that, based on a very strong collection of precedents and evidence, they are certain that their legal challenge will succeed.

TikTok named Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen as the defendant in its lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on the popular social media platform.

However, Knudsen’s spokesman, Emily Flower, stated in a CNN interview that the state was prepared for legal action.

She declared that the state is fully prepared to defend the law that helps protect Montanans’ security and privacy in the event of legal challenges.

Does Montana’s Ban Violate the Law?

Montana’s move to prohibit TikTok has raised concerns about the clash between state legislation and the digital landscape, highlighting the complexities surrounding internet governance and individual freedom.

As the legal battle unfolds, it brings to the forefront questions about the power of states to regulate online platforms and the potential ramifications for the broader tech industry.

On April 28, 2023, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed into law a bill that aimed to prohibit the use and distribution of TikTok within the state’s borders.

The bill, also known as SB419, was approved by the Montana House of Representatives last month by a vote of 54 to 43.

The law, which will go into force on January 1, 2024, expressly targets TikTok and forbids the app from being used within state borders.

The rule also states that anyone who violates the law, such as app stores found to be hosting social media software, could face a $10,000 per day fine.

This move coincided with increased global scrutiny of Chinese-owned tech companies and their data practices, and TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, has more than 150 million American users.

On the other hand, many U.S. officials have expressed concern that the Chinese government could use Tiktok to gain access to U.S. data for spying purposes.

However, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew responded that spying is not the right word to describe what the company does with consumer data.

Furthermore, there is currently no evidence that the Chinese government has ever obtained the personal information of TikTok users in the U.S.

More Push Backs Against the Ban

Montana’s ban exceeded other states’ restrictions on TikTok. However, some legal and technological experts have shown negative reactions to the ban.

Jon Bateman, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace policy researcher and former Department of Defense cyber-strategy director, stated that if he were a Montana resident, he would have been outraged by the law’s intrusiveness.

Last week, five TikTok creators who claimed that Montana’s prohibition violated the First Amendment filed their lawsuit against the state.

The inhabitants of Montana also claimed that the state lacked any control over national security concerns in the complaint, which was secretly filed in federal court late on Wednesday.

Furthermore, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in opposition to the bill, also released a press statement.

The body stated that the Montana legislature and Governor Gianforte violated the free speech rights of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves, gather information, and operate small businesses.

TikTok’s legal battle against Montana’s ban raises critical questions about the intersection of state regulation and the digital realm.

While concerns over data privacy and security are valid, attempts to restrict access to specific apps pose challenges to individual freedoms and the global nature of the internet.

As the case progresses, it will undoubtedly serve as a precedent for future debates about states’ authority to regulate online platforms and the potential impact on the broader tech industry.

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