On Wednesday, Republican Governor Greg Gianforte signed a more comprehensive law than any other state’s attempts to restrict the social media app, which is owned by a Chinese tech corporation, making Montana the first state in the United States to prohibit TikTok completely.
It is anticipated that the law, set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, will be legally challenged.
It will also act as a trial run for the TikTok-free America that many national lawmakers have envisioned. According to cybersecurity experts, it might be challenging to enforce the restriction.
Gianforte said, “Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ sensitive personal information and private data from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.”
According to Brooke Oberwetter, a spokesperson for TikTok, the regulation is illegal and violates people’s First Amendment rights.
She opted not to comment on whether the business will launch a lawsuit.
As we continue to battle to defend the rights of our users both inside and outside of Montana, we want to reassure Montanans that they may still use TikTok to express themselves, do a job, and discover community.
The rule was also deemed unlawful by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana and NetChoice, a business association that includes Google and TikTok among its members.
The legislature “trampled on the free speech of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves and gather information,” according to Keegan Medrano, policy director for the ACLU of Montana.
The FBI, several senators, and representatives from other agencies are worried that ByteDance’s video-sharing app may provide the Chinese government access to data on American individuals or disseminate propaganda in favor of Beijing that could sway public opinion.
According to TikTok, none of this has ever occurred.
ByteDance denies the software giant’s accusation by a former executive that it acted as a “propaganda tool” for the Chinese government.
Gianforte said that TikTok posed a “significant risk” to confidential state information when Montana banned the app on devices used by the government in late December.
The federal government and more than half of the states in the US have a comparable ban.
On Wednesday, Gianforte declared that as of June 1, he would bar any state enterprises and equipment in Montana from using any social media platforms linked to hostile foreign nations.
He mentioned several apps, including WeChat, whose parent business is based in China, and Telegram Messenger, established in Russia.
The GOP-controlled Montana Legislature quickly approved the bill after being drafted by the attorney general’s office.
Gianforte intended to broaden the TikTok bill to cover apps linked to opponents abroad, but lawmakers did not submit the statement until this month’s end, precluding him from making any revisions.
The new law in Montana bans TikTok downloads within the state and fines any “entity”—such as an app store or TikTok—$10,000 per day for each occasion when a user “is offered the ability” to visit the social media site or download the app.
Users would not be subject to the fines.
Using a virtual private network, a service that shields internet users by encrypting their data flow, is said to make it simple for the people of Montana to get around the prohibition, according to the law’s detractors.
According to Montana state officials, geofencing technology is employed with online sports betting apps. These apps are turned off in jurisdictions where online gambling is prohibited.
Despite the enthusiasm of many Montana lawmakers for a ban, analysts who closely examined the measure warned the state would not implement it.
Advocacy organizations and TikTok fans who oppose the removal of their beloved app are sure to criticize officials.
Due to the app’s immense popularity and user-friendliness, U.S. digital giants like Snapchat and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, view it as a rival.
To fight against a ban, TikTok has been enlisting the help of small businesses and purported influencers.
However, people who haven’t participated in the company’s formal campaign are likewise concerned about what the government is doing.
Former football player and recent University of Montana graduate Adam Botkin said being a content producer was a scary moment.
On his social media channels, including Instagram, where he has about 44,000 followers, he occasionally earns “tens of thousands” of dollars monthly from companies wishing to sell their goods there.
Botkin claims that Instagram, considered more lucrative for content providers, provides most of his income.
To achieve the same success that he does on TikTok, he will need to expand his fan base on that site and others.
He claims he’s attempting to accomplish that and won’t make an effort to use a VPN to get over the TikTok prohibition.
“You’ve got to adapt and evolve with how things move,” Botkin added. Therefore, if I have to change and relocate, I will change.