Why is Montana banning TikTok?

Hand holding smartphone with TikTok logo showing on screenPIXABAY

Montana has become the very first state to pass laws that stop citizens from accessing TikTok.

While the bill still needs to be signed into law to become active, it represents a major step in skepticism towards TikTok in the United States, and several other states could follow the trend.

The SB 419 bill would make it illegal for app stores to make TikTok available to users in Montana, with harsh fines of up to $10,000 on companies who try to get around this law.

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In their reasoning, Montana lawmakers cited TikTok’s owner, Chinese tech company ByteDance, as one of the reasons for the ban. The allegations of data misuse and surveillance were described as a “national security risk”.

Shou Zi Chew TikTok CEO with TikTok logoTikTok/Flickr: World Economic Forum
The CEO of TikTok has previously appeared before Congress to defend the company from surveillance allegations

Additionally, lawmakers described TikTok’s negative social impact, with several politicians arguing that TikTok encouraged “dangerous activities” and harmful trends.

These included “throwing objects at moving automobiles” or “lighting a mirror on fire and then attempting to extinguish it using only one’s body parts”.

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The law must be signed by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte to come into action.

TikTok responds to Montana ban

The company has indicated that it would challenge the ban in courts if it were passed.

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A spokesperson for TikTok said: “The bill’s champions have admitted that they have no feasible plan for operationalizing this attempt to censor American voices and that the bill’s constitutionality will be decided by the courts”.

“We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach.”

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Which states have banned TikTok?

Currently, Montana is the only state that has passed any laws restricting access to TikTok.

However, after the hearings in Congress with TikTok’s CEO, other states could follow in Montana’s footsteps.

President Biden has already said that ByteDance needs to divest its ownership of TikTok if it wants to avoid a federal-level ban.

With no sign of backing down, this could be the start of a nationwide movement against the app in state legislatures.

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To read more about what a national ban on TikTok would look like, check out our coverage here.

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