TikTok sued Monday to block Montana from ban popular video appstepping up efforts to end a ban that would be the first of its kind in the country.
In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, the company said Montana law violates the First Amendment and parts of the U.S. Constitution that limit state powers. The ban “unconstitutionally closed the speaking forum for all speakers on the app,” the company said in the lawsuit.
TikTok sued days after Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed the ban – which would fine the video app if it worked in the state or app stores if they allowed it to be downloaded – in the law. State law has become a test for whether it is possible to ban the use of TikTok, which is owned by Chinese internet company ByteDance, on national security grounds. The ban, which is set to go into effect Jan. 1, has already raised questions about how it would be enforced within Montana’s borders.
“We challenge Montana’s unconstitutional ban on TikTok to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana,” Brooke Oberwetter, a spokeswoman for TikTok, said in a statement. “We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an extremely strong body of precedent and facts.”
The lawsuit adds to the legal challenges of the ban. A group of TikTok users filed a separate complaint challenging the Montana bill on Wednesday, the day Mr. Gianforte signed it, saying it violated their First Amendment rights and exceeded the state’s legal authority. The law also drew an outcry from civil liberty and digital rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute.
A spokeswoman for the Montana attorney general did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
TikTok, which has more than 150 million US users, has been in limbo under two presidential administrations while struggling to dispel concerns about its Chinese ownership. The company, which is waiting for the Biden administration to approve its plan to operate in the United States, has already faced bans from government devices in more than two dozen states, as well as from universities and the military. .
THE Montana ban was written by State Attorney General Austin Knudsen, a Republican, and introduced by a Republican state senator this year. State lawmakers said the ban would prevent the Chinese government from accessing the personal information of Montana residents. The ban debate began shortly after a Chinese spy balloon floated over the state, catching national attention.
The new law will prevent TikTok from operating the app in the state. App Store operators, like Apple and Google, will also be banned from making it available for download in the state. TikTok, Apple and Google could face daily fines of $10,000 if they fail to comply.
In 2020, TikTok for follow-up the federal government when President Donald J. Trump used his emergency economic powers to issue an executive order to stop the app from operating in the United States. A judge sided with the company — and another judge blocked the ban after a challenge from a group of creators — and the app dodged the ban.
TikTok has been banned in some countriesincluding India in 2020. Britain, Canada and France recently banned the app on official government devices.
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