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Montana first US state to ban TikTok

May 18, 2023

Starting next year, Montana will prohibit app stores from offering the video-sharing platform to users. The state's governor said the ban protects people from alleged Chinese surveillance.

A symbolic image of the TikTok logo displayed on a phone screen and a view of a city blurred in the background
TikTok is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDanceImage: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte on Wednesday signed a bill banning TikTok, with the law set to come into effect on January 1, 2024. 

The Chinese-owned video-sharing platform has been at the center of privacy concerns, with lawmakers in Washington increasingly calling for a wider ban.

"To protect Montanans' personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana," Gianforte wrote on Twitter.

What does the Montana Tiktok ban mean? 

The state is aiming to punish companies like Apple and Google with a $10,000 fine for every day that TikTok is still available on their stores. 

Each time "a user accesses TikTok, is offered the ability to access TikTok, or is offered the ability to download TikTok" it is considered a violation, according to a copy of the law published on the state's website. 

Users, however, will not be penalized. 

If TikTok is sold to a company that is not based in "any country designated as a foreign adversary" by the US government, the Montana ban would essentially be void. 

How has TikTok responded? 

Brooke Oberwetter, a spokesperson for the social media platform, argued that the law infringes on people's right to freedom of expression. 

"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," Oberwetter said in a statement.

TikTok was widely expected to take the matter to court, but Oberwetter declined to say whether the company would file a lawsuit.

Will TikTok be banned in the United States?

TikTok has previously said that Beijing was not interfering in its operation.

Since 2020, US officials have sought to curtail TikTok. Then-President Donald Trump tried to stop the company from operating in the country before his order was blocked by federal courts. 

Some US states, like Utah and Arkansas, have enacted laws linking children and teenagers' social media use to parental consent.

fb/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)