Montana Becomes The First State to Ban TikTok


Montana has officially become the first state to completely ban Chinese-owned video app TikTok in the U.S.

On Wednesday, Republican Governor Greg Gianforte signed in a bill to ban TikTok from operating in the state to protect residents from alleged intelligence gathering by China.

“To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana,” Governor Gianforte writes on Twitter.

Montana will make it unlawful for the Google Play store and Apple App store to offer TikTok within the state and will be subjected to fines of up to $10,000 a day for violations. However, the state will not impose any penalties on individuals using the app.

Legal Challenges

The ban is to take effect on January 1, 2024. It is expected that TikTok will challenge Montana’s bill in federal court. Groups such as American Civil Liberties Union have also called the ban unconstitutional.

“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,” TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter says in a statement.

“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.”

The looming battle over the Montana bill offers an insight into what the U.S. might face nationally if lawmakers attempt a nationwide ban of TikTok — something which has become a real possibility in recent months.

Not Just a TikTok Ban

On Wednesday, Montana governor Gianforte did not just ban TikTok across the state. In a letter shared on Twitter, Gianforte also accused Telegram, WeChat, shopping app Temu, TikTok owner ByteDance’s CapCut video editor, and Lemon8 of being “tied to foreign adversaries.”

Governor Gianforte ordered the use of these apps to also be banned on government devices and all state-owned businesses — with the legislation coming into effect on June 1. Apps already installed on such devices should be “immediately removed.”

Governor Gianforte already blocked TikTok on government devices and public networks in Montana in December, and this new legislation expands the remit to include other apps.

According to The Verge, Gianforte largely seems to be targeting apps with ties to China with the new law, given that ByteDance, Temu owner Pinduoduo, and WeChat owner Tencent are all based in the country.

Telegram is the only anomaly as the app is founded in Russia but is currently headquartered in Dubai. Governor Gianforte’s letter alleges that the Russian government uses the app to “monitor users and obtain personal, sensitive, confidential information.”

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.