Lawmakers in Montana have voted to ban the use of TikTok in the state. The legislation will now make its way to the desk of Gov. Greg Gianforte. The bill would prevent app stores from offering downloads for the platform. It would also make Montana the first U.S. state to ban the app.
“The governor will carefully consider any bill the legislature sends to his desk,” said Brooke Stroyke, a spokesperson for Gianforte. In the past, the Governor has banned TikTok from state government devices.
Gov. Greg Gianforte At A MAGA Rally
The bill will face serious legal opposition should it pass. Brooke Oberwetter, a spokesperson for TikTok, responded in a statement labeling the act "government overreach." “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,” they said. “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.”
In recent years, U.S. politicians have expressed concerns that the Chinese government could potentially gain access to TikTok user data. They could use this for intelligence or propaganda campaigns. As of now, there is no evidence that the Chinese government has gained access to this information. However, FBI Director Christopher Wray has argued to Congress that “we’re not sure that we would see many of the outward signs of it happening if it was happening.”
NetChoice, a technology industry group, has argued that banning TikTok could set a dangerous precedent. “This move from the Montana legislature sets a dangerous precedent that the government can try to ban any business it doesn’t like without clear evidence of wrongdoing,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s vice president and general counsel. “The US Constitution clearly forbids lawmakers from passing laws to criminalize a specific individual or business. Gov. Greg Gianforte should veto this clearly unconstitutional law.”