It was reported last week that Governor Greg Gianforte had banned TikTok from the state, but TikTok isn't going down easily. Several months ago, TikTok filed a lawsuit against the ban, alleging that it violates the Constitution as well as violates the company's right to host and distribute user-created videos. The lawsuit seeks to keep the app available to Montanans.
In its complaint, TikTok argues that Montana is overstepping its role by attempting to legislate matters of national security instead of deferring to federal regulators. The company believes that this places an undue burden on its ability to conduct interstate business. By seeking an injunction to block Montana's ban, TikTok hopes to continue its operations in the state while the courts address the legal issues at hand.
Brooke Oberwetter, a spokesperson for TikTok, expressed the company's stance on the matter, stating, "We are challenging Montana's unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana. We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts."
TikTok has been facing mounting pressure in the United States from both Congress and state legislatures in recent months. Various rules restricting TikTok on government-owned devices and college networks have already been implemented. It is unclear, however, how a state-level ban on a specific app could be effectively enforced, even with Montana's blanket ban on access to the app.
Governor Gianforte defended the ban, stating, "Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans' private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party." The governor's remarks allude to unverified claims that the app shares user data with the Chinese government.
Notably, five TikTok creators have filed their own lawsuit against the state, making a similar argument that the Montana ban violates the First Amendment. They contend that the law's broad approach restricts and bans the protected speech of all TikTok users in Montana based on the speculative possibility of the Chinese government using TikTok to spy on some users.
A significant precedent could be set for regulating social media platforms based on the outcome of this legal battle. Despite Montana's commitment to safeguard residents' data and personal information, TikTok remains committed to protecting its business and users' rights.