Governor Greg Gianforte said the move would protect Americans’ private data from China
Montana has enacted an all-out ban on the TikTok video-sharing platform, the harshest action taken against the site by any US state. Owned by a Chinese tech firm, the social media company has condemned the legislation, arguing that it infringes on the constitutional rights of US citizens.
Governor Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law on Wednesday, later tweeting that the measure would “protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party.” The sweeping ban is set to take effect on January 1, 2024, though could face legal challenges from both TikTok and civil liberties groups.
Known as SB419, the law passed through the Montana state legislature last month with strong support from Republicans, who have insisted TikTok poses a privacy and national security threat to the United States given its ownership by ByteDance, a company based in Beijing. The bill prohibits TikTok from operating within the state and bars mobile app stores from hosting the site under the threat of fines of up to $10,000 per day of violation.
TikTok issued a statement on Wednesday, declaring that it would fight the new law and “continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.”
“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,” company spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said. “We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community.”
The platform previously argued that its operations are now fully based in the US, repeatedly denying that it passes Americans’ data to the Chinese government. Beijing has also rejected the charges as baseless.
Rights groups and industry organizations also condemned the ban, with the ACLU claiming it was passed “in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment.” NetChoice – a trade group composed of several tech companies, including TikTok – said the bill “ignores the US Constitution, due process and free speech.”
Though Montana is the first to impose a full ban on TikTok, the service has faced restrictions in at least 25 other US states and within the federal government, which have barred the app on official devices.