Wednesday, Montana became the first state to officially ban TikTok
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
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed Senate Bill 419 into law on Wednesday and said in a press release he banned the popular social networking site “to protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party.” The ban goes into effect on January 1, 2024 and is likely to be challenged.
“The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented,” Gianforte said in a separate statement. “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.”
While TikTok was already banned by the federal government and at state agencies in Montana, this new bill prohibits TikTok from being used on personal devices as well.
It states, “Tiktok may not operate within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana.”
Gianforte also stated that the Montana Department of Justice will enforce penalties and fine an “entity” — an app store or TikTok— $10,000 per violation, as well as an additional $10,000 for each day a person “is offered the ability” to access the social media platform or download the app, as outlined in S.B. 419. The fines would not apply to the user.
When the bill was passed last month technology experts raised concerns about how realistic expectations were around enforcement. A rep from TechNet said the Apple App Store and the Google Play App Store “do not have the ability to geofence” apps on a state-by-state basis and, as a result, enforcing the restriction would be impossible in these widely used app platforms.
In response to the new law TikTok 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,” said TikTok in a statement provided to CBS News. “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.”