Montana's legislature votes to ban TikTok

 April 15, 2023

Montana has just become the first state in the nation to pass a law banning TikTok, the Washington Examiner reports

It did so on Friday when the state's House of Representatives voted in favor - by a tally of 54 to 43 - of passing S.B. 419, which, simply put, is "an act banning TikTok in Montana."

As its designation would suggest, the bill originated in the Montana Senate, which passed the bill a little over a month ago.

What this means is that the bill is now headed to Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte's desk. And, there is every indication that Gianforte will sign the measure into law. The only question is when he will do so.

The problem

In recent years, various concerns have been voiced nationwide about TikTok, and these concerns stem from the app's connection with the communist government of China. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is a Chinese tech company.

It has been alleged that China has been using TikTok to spy on American users of the platform - among others - and that, additionally, China has used TikTok to influence users, including politically. China denies this.

There has been a push in America, at both the state and federal levels, to take some sort of action to address the problem that TikTok's Chinese ownership poses.

The federal government, for example, has chosen to prohibit TikTok from government-owned devices. Some state governments have done the same, and this includes Gianforte's Montana.

But, so far, we have not seen a complete ban of the kind that has now been passed by Montana's legislature.

The law, and what to expect going forward

As stated, S.B. 419 completely bans the use of TikTok in Montana. Under the law, for example, a company would be fined $10,000 per violation for allowing a user to access the TikTok app.

Once signed by Gianfore, the law will be scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. But, it is not expected to be a smooth ride between the signing and the implementation. Rather, it is being anticipated that the Montana law will face legal challenges on First Amendment grounds.

TikTok, itself, put out a statement, in response to the passage of the legislation, saying that it will "continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach."

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen welcomed the legal challenges, calling this an "area of undeveloped jurisprudence that we need the courts to step into."

Success by Montana, here, would certainly be expected to result in more bans by more state governments.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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