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Legislators in Montana vote to ban TikTok in the state



Helena, Montana – The Montana Legislature passed a bill banning the social networking app TikTok, making it the first state to do so. This will undoubtedly raise issues with free expression.

The legislation was approved by the GOP-led legislature on Friday with a vote of 54-43. It now goes to Greg Gianforte, a Republican governor, who is anticipated to sign it into law. TokTok has already been blocked on state government devices by Gianforte.

The bill forbids TikTok and ByteDance, the app’s parent firm, from conducting business within the state and forbids app developers like Apple and Google from making the app available for download. The app could still be used by those who have already downloaded it, and there would be no penalties for doing so.

TikTok itself, as well as any business that makes it available for download in its app store, would be liable for $10,000 in fines for each infraction, plus an additional $10,000 for each day the infraction persists.

According to the bill, Montanans’ privacy and security are violated by the Chinese management of TikTok and ByteDance.

The bill also cites instances of unsafe and offensive antics that have occasionally made headlines thanks to TikTok and claims that people’s health and safety are placed at risk by TikTok’s promotion of such careless and even unlawful activity.

Rights organizations are opposing the law. The bill was criticized as a breach of the right to free expression in a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Montana legislature.

“Passing this legislation would flout the First Amendment and trample on Montanans’ constitutional right to freedom of speech,” the ACLU wrote. “The government cannot impose a total ban on a communications platform like TikTok unless it is necessary to prevent extremely serious, immediate harm to national security.”

TikTok is now prohibited on government-owned devices in the United States, and legislation that is currently before Congress would grant the Commerce Department-wide regulatory jurisdiction over any foreign information or communication program that poses a threat to American consumers or national security, including TikTok.

The state ban will take effect on January 1, 2024, if the Montana bill is made law.

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