TikTok has been battling the possibility of a ban in the United States for years. Now, lawmakers in Montana voted to approve a “first-of-its-kind” bill that would ban the popular social media app across the state.
TikTok ban: Montana passes first statewide ban
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Montana lawmakers voted 54-43 in favor of approving the bill. It will now be sent to Governor Greg Gianforte, and if he signs it, Montana will officially become the first state to implement a statewide TikTok ban.
As the bill is written today, the TikTok ban would go into effect on January 1, 2024. ByteDance, the China-based company that owns TikTok, would be barred from operating within Montana. “Any entity violating this law” would be fined $10,000 “per violation,” the report from the WSJ says. “It’s unclear how some elements of the legislation would be enforced,” the report continues.
Whether or not Governor Gianforte signs the bill into law remains to be seen, but he has been an outspoken critic of TikTok in the past. Montana has already banned TikTok on government-issued devices, as have other states. The US federal government has also banned TikTok on government devices, as have numerous other countries around the world.
Gianforte has also pressed universities in Montana to implement their own TikTok bans. This is something other states have already done, including Texas.
As explained by the Associated Press, the penalties would not be applied to users themselves but rather ByteDance or the app store from which the app was downloaded. This, of course, includes Apple and Google.
Montana lawmakers say that they want the state to be a “leader” when it comes to banning access to TikTok. Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen has described the app as a “tool used by the Chinese government to spy on Montanans.”
The bill would be void if the United States enacts a federal ban on TikTok or if “TikTok severs its Chinese connections,” the bill explains. Knudsen, however, has said Montana is acting quickly because he isn’t sure federal lawmakers will do the same.
In a statement responding to the Montana legislation, TikTok said 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.”
If the bill is signed by Governor Gianforte, experts say that it will set the stage for a series of legal challenges and could ultimately make its way to the Supreme Court.
Apple and Google have not commented on this bill, which again would put them on the hook for $10,000 penalties for each violation.
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