Montana Becomes First State to Ban TikTok, App Maker Says It Will ‘Defend the Rights of Our Users’

Montana has become the first state in the U.S. to ban TikTok. If the bill holds up against expected legal challenges, it will be put into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

State Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the bill on Wednesday, writing in a statement: “Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Gianforte added on Twitter, “TikTok is just one app tied to foreign adversaries. Today I directed the state’s Chief Information Officer to ban any application that provides personal information or data to foreign adversaries from the state network.”

The law would ban app stores from making the app available for download in Montana.

TikTok responded to the ban with the following statement: “Governor Gianforte has signed a bill that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state. We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.”

According to the Associated Press, Montana would be able to fine any “entity,” such as an app store or TikTok itself, $10,000 per day each time a user is “offered the ability” to access or download the platform. These fines would not be imposed on individual users.

Owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, TikTok has garnered the reputation amongst some as a national security threat due to concerns about data collection. This led the U.S. to ban TikTok on government-issued devices in March.

TikTok, which exploded in popularity over the pandemic, is home to over 1 billion users and serves as a hub for influencers, celebrities and creators. According to TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown, Montana is home to 200,000 TikTok users and 6,000 businesses that use the app.

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