Business News Digital Legal Top Stories

TikTok sues Montana over ban

By | Published on Tuesday 23 May 2023


TikTok yesterday filed a lawsuit challenging the US state of Montana’s new law that will ban any distribution and downloading of the video-sharing app from the start of next year. The company argues that the ban violates the First Amendment rights of the company and its users.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte formally signed the ban into law last week, it having been passed by lawmakers in the state last month. It’s a response to ongoing concerns in political circles that the Chinese government has access to TikTok user-data via the app’s China-based owned Bytedance.

TikTok denies that there are any data security issues on its platform. And the ban in Montana, it insists, attacks the free speech rights of American citizens provided by the First Amendment of the US constitution.

When Gianforte formally backed the ban last week, a TikTok spokesperson said: “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”.

Yesterday’s legal filing also raises other issues with the ban. According to Reuters, TikTok also claims that the ban in Montana “is pre-empted by federal law because it intrudes upon matters of exclusive federal concern and violates the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, which limits the authority of states to enact legislation that unduly burdens interstate and foreign commerce”.

Five TikTok creators in Montana have also filed a lawsuit seeking to block the ban. But the office of the state’s Attorney General, Austin Knudsen, which is tasked with implementing the ban, insists it expected these legal challenges and is ready to fight them.

Responding to TikTok’s lawsuit, a spokesperson for Knudsen told reporters: “We expected legal challenges and are fully prepared to defend the law that helps protect Montanans’ privacy and security”.