TikTok is not willing to stop operating in Montana. The social network filed a lawsuit in US federal court on Monday to prevent the state from implementing a blanket ban on the social network from videos throughout the territory. A measure that could soon be replicated at the national level if Chinese investors do not get rid of their stake in the company.
The ban, born out of fears that the app could be used by the Chinese government to spy and misinformwill be effective from January 1, 2024. According to the application, it violates the right to freedom of expression, protected in the US Constitution.
“We believe that our legal recourse will prevail on the basis of a series of precedents and very solid facts,” they have stated from the social network. “The state has enacted these extraordinary and unprecedented measures based on nothing more than unfounded speculation,” TikTok notes in its lawsuit.
The ban, approved by state lawmakers in April, was signed into law by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte on May 17. Gianforte said on Twitter that he supported the ban to “protect the personal and private data of Montanans from the Chinese Communist Party.”
The social network’s lawsuit comes after five TikTok users filed an appeal last week in Montana federal court to overturn the general ban, arguing that it violates his right to freedom of expression. The social network, meanwhile, has asked the federal court to declare the ban on its platform unconstitutional and to prevent the state from implementing it.
“Montana can’t ban its residents from viewing or posting on TikTok, just as it can’t ban the ‘Wall Street Journal’ based on who owns it or the ideas it posts,” argues the TikTok users’ legal recourse.
Possible nationwide ban
The short video sharing application belongs to the Chinese group ByteDance and several US congressmen believe that it allows Beijing to spy on and manipulate its users, which the company denies. Meanwhile, Washington is still studying the status of the app and trying to find the most appropriate way to remove it from the country if the Chinese owners don’t get rid of the property.
According to Montana regulations, the law is violated whenever “a user accesses TikTok, is offered the ability to access TikTok, or is offered the ability to download TikTok.” Each violation is punishable by a $10,000 fine. Under this law, Apple and Google will have to remove TikTok from their app stores, otherwise they can be fined the same amount of money.