Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has signed a bill banning the social media platform TikTok in the state, making it the first state in the US to do so. TikTok has responded by stating that the ban infringes on the First Amendment rights of its users. The ban is aimed at protecting Montanans’ personal data and sensitive information from being gathered by the Chinese Communist Party, which has been accused of using the app to spy on Americans. The penalties for violating the ban will be enforced by the Montana Department of Justice. The ban has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana and NetChoice, a trade group that counts Google and TikTok as its members, as unconstitutional. Opponents of the ban believe that Montana residents could easily circumvent the ban by using a virtual private network. The ban comes after FBI Director Chris Wray testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that TikTok has the power to “drive narratives” and “divide Americans against each other”. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has repeatedly stated that the company is headquartered in Singapore and Los Angeles and has vowed to migrate US user data stored on servers in China to the United States through an initiative named Project Texas. Despite these assurances, many people remain concerned about the app’s potential to be used by the Chinese government for data operations. It remains to be seen whether other states will follow Montana’s lead and ban TikTok.
TikTok challenges Montana ban, urges users to keep using