Montana to Become the First US State to Ban TikTok App on Personal Devices
Under the new law, the state of Montana will be able to fine any “entity” such as app stores and TikTok, $10,000 per day for each person who is “offered the ability” to access the platform or download the app. If you are affected by anything touched on within this article, follow the links to our various support services or click on the blue logo icon at the bottom right of the screen to start using Cybersmile Assistant, our smart AI support assistant.
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte recently signed a law which will make it illegal for app stores to offer the TikTok app to anyone in the state of Montana. Mr Gianforte told lawmakers that the ban would further “our shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance.”
The ban in Montana is among the most drastic in a series of escalations by the US government against the Chinese owned company, which has come under heavy government scrutiny as a potential national security risk over its ties to China, and alleged data sharing. Measures already in place include the federal government and more than half of all US states prohibiting the app on government devices.
Governor Gianforte has also banned the use of other social media apps that collate and provide personal data or information to foreign adversaries on government issued devices. These include WeChat, whose parent company is based in China, and Telegram Messenger, which originated in Russia.
TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance has repeatedly denied sharing data with the Chinese government and have stated that the law, “infringes on the first amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok,” and that the company intends to “defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.”
Under the new law, the state of Montana will be able to fine any “entity,” (which includes app stores and TikTok), $10,000 per day for each person who is “offered the ability” to access the platform or download the app. The fines will not apply to users, and the law will not prohibit people who already have TikTok from using it.
Opponents to the measure consider it to be government overreach, with many believing the scheme to be unworkable due to a number of technical loop-holes such as the use of pre-paid cards to make payments or VPNs to disguise geo location.
Policy Director for ACLU of Montana, Keegan Medrano, stated that the bill “trampled on the free speech of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves, gather information and run their small business in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment.”
The ban in Montana is expected to face legal challenges and may well serve as a testing ground for the wider restrictions that many national lawmakers have been calling for.
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