In a groundbreaking move, Montana has become the first state to impose a ban on the immensely popular social media app, TikTok. Governor Greg Gianforte signed Senate Bill 419 on Wednesday, citing concerns about the protection of residents’ private information and pointing to the Chinese government as a potential threat.
Highlighting the well-documented allegations of the Chinese Communist Party’s use of TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect sensitive personal information, Governor Gianforte made it clear that this decision was driven by a commitment to safeguarding citizens.
However, it is worth noting that there is currently no direct evidence of the Chinese government accessing TikTok user data. Critics of the ban point to Chinese laws that grant the government access to a company’s customer records as a basis for their concerns.
Under Montana’s new legislation, platforms offering TikTok on their marketplaces, including the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, could face fines of up to $10,000 per day for violations.
Scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2024, the ban is anticipated to face legal challenges from TikTok in federal court. The social media giant, along with organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, argues that the ban infringes upon constitutional rights.
This move comes after Governor Gianforte previously prohibited TikTok on state government electronic devices in December. Now, he has broadened the ban to encompass “all social media applications that collect and provide users’ personal information or data to a foreign adversary, or a person or entity located within a country designated as a foreign adversary.”
President Biden had previously signed legislation prohibiting TikTok from government devices, and there have been discussions about an all-out ban if the app’s parent company, ByteDance, fails to find an American buyer. The United States, along with its “Five Eyes” security partners—Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—already bans TikTok on federal government devices due to national security concerns.