Montana officially became the first state to ban TikTok on Wednesday, after Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill restricting downloads of the immensely popular social media app.
The legislation, which was passed in April, makes it illegal for app stores to give users the option to download TikTok and also illegal for the company to operate within the state.
The law is likely to face challenges in court arguing that it restricts free speech, but Gianforte praised the bill’s privacy protections.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s use of TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well documented,” Gianforte said in a press release, calling the law “the most decisive of any state”. .»
TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter called the bill «illegal» in a statement Wednesday, saying the app is a platform that «empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state.»
«We want to assure Montanans that they can continue to use TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue to work to defend the rights of our users in and outside of Montana,» Oberwetter said.
When the bill passed last month, Oberwetter said its «champions have admitted they have no workable plan for making this attempt to censor American voices operational.»
Violations of a ban include any time a user offers to download the app. Each violation could carry a $10,000 fine. The execution would be handled by the Montana Department of Justice.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew told Congress in March that 150 million people in the US are regular users of the app, whose popularity has skyrocketed in recent years.
Although Montana is the first state to ban downloads and use of the app for everyone within its borders, limited bans have been issued at the federal and state-by-state levels for government-owned devices and networks.
President Joe Biden signed a ban last year that prohibits the use of TikTok by the nearly 4 million federal government employees on devices owned by their agencies.