Montana folks will no longer be able to use or download TikTok starting in 2024. Governor Greg Gianforte signed the law this week and also issued an executive action banning Telegram, WeChat, and Temu.
To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana.
— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) May 17, 2023
Despite its fame, TikTok’s reputation has always been smeared with issues, especially in terms of security and privacy. Numerous countries are implementing TikTok bans at different levels to resolve these concerns. Montana is joining the club, but unlike others, it is banning the use of the app completely for all its citizens. Lawmakers in Montana voted for this ban in April, but Governor Gianforte only signed it this Wednesday.
The new law will push online stores like Apple and Google app stores to stop offering TikTok in Montana. If the stores and TikTok itself fail to comply with it, the law states that they could be fined $10,000 per violation per day. Specifically, the law explains that such violation will happen “each time that a user accesses TikTok, is offered the ability to access TikTok, or is offered the ability to download TikTok.”
In response to the law, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter expressed dismay on Twitter. “Governor Gianforte has signed a bill that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of #Montana by unlawfully banning #TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state,” Oberwetter posted. “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.”
Governor Gianforte explained the decision by citing the same concerns voiced by others about the Chinese government possibly accessing users’ data. This is not a surprise, nonetheless, especially about past reports saying TikTok employees repeatedly accessed the US user data from China and that some of them could be working for the Chinese government, too.
Aside from TikTok, Montana banned Telegram, WeChat, and Temu. As per Governor Gianforte, “TikTok is just one app tied to foreign adversaries.” With this, he also ordered the Chief Information Officer of Montana “to ban any application that provides personal information or data to foreign adversaries from the state network.”
TikTok, which called the move an “egregious government overreach,” still hasn’t officially confirmed whether it will file a lawsuit to counter the law, but it is likely to happen.