Judge Blocks Montana TikTok Ban Law – On Thursday, a Montana judge issued a ruling to prevent the implementation of a state ban on TikTok, a victory for the popular video streaming app that claimed the law infringed upon the First Amendment. In May, TikTok lodged a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, aiming to invalidate the law and prevent the state from enforcing it.
The judge stated that the law should be halted, acknowledging TikTok’s valid arguments that it likely infringed upon the First Amendment. Montana stands as the inaugural state to introduce a law prohibiting app stores from providing TikTok to residents, effective January 1, 2024. Governor Greg Gianforte, a Republican, cited the law’s goal as safeguarding residents from foreign influence by the Chinese Communist Party, given TikTok’s ownership by Beijing-based ByteDance.
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App stores that defy this law after the specified date will incur penalties, starting at $10,000. The judge concurred with TikTok’s three assertions, supporting the blocking of the law. TikTok argued that the Montana law infringes on the company’s constitutionally protected rights to share and promote third-party speech, contending that the ban is preempted by federal law regarding national security under federal government control.
Asserting that the law violates the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting state laws that excessively burden interstate and foreign commerce. “We are pleased the judge rejected this unconstitutional law and hundreds of thousands of Montanans can continue to express themselves, earn a living, and find community on TikTok,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement.
Montana, home to 1.1 million people, is the inaugural state to entirely prohibit TikTok, despite the app’s roughly 150 million monthly users in the U.S. However, over 30 states have taken precautions by prohibiting its use on government-issued devices due to concerns about TikTok’s purported national security threats.
Several bills in Congress encompass options from a nationwide TikTok ban to granting the executive branch authority to limit TikTok and other apps linked to foreign adversaries. However, in recent weeks, Congress has not taken action, as both Republicans and progressive Democrats have voiced opposition to a ban.