Montana Becomes First State To Ban TikTok

By Jason Hall

May 18, 2023

Photo: Getty Images

Montana has become the first U.S. state to ban TikTok after Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill into law on Wednesday (May 17), NBC News reports.

The bill, which was passed in April, will prohibit app stores from allowing users the option to download the popular social media app, as well as the company from to operating within the state. The new law is expected to receive pushback in court due to restrictions on free speech, however, Gianforte praised its intentions to protect privacy, specifically given TikTok's ties to China.

“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 news release, specifically referring to the new law as "the most decisive action of any state."

TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter argued that the bill was "unlawful" in a response statement, claiming the social media app "empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state."

"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," Oberwetter said via NBC News.

Oberwetter had previously said the bill's "champions have admitted that they have no feasible plan for operationalizing this attempt to censor American voices" when it was passed in April.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said the app has more than 150 million regular users in the U.S. while appearing before Congress to address privacy concerns in March. President Joe Biden signed a bill prohibiting the nearly 4 million U.S. federal government employees from using TikTok on devices owned by its agencies in 2022.

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