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“Montana Governor Bans TikTok: Impact and Reactions”

Montana Governor

Montana Governor Takes Bold Action: Signs Historic TikTok Ban into Law

Montana has taken a groundbreaking step by becoming the first state in the United States to enact a comprehensive ban on the popular social media app TikTok. Republican Governor Greg Gianforte signed the measure into law, surpassing other states’ efforts to curtail the app owned by a Chinese tech company.

The ban, set to go into effect on January 1, 2024, is expected to face legal challenges and will serve as a test for the vision of a TikTok-free America that many national lawmakers have advocated. However, enforcing the ban is likely to pose challenges, as acknowledged by cybersecurity experts.

Governor Gianforte stated that Montana is taking decisive action to safeguard Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party. TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter countered, arguing that the law violates people’s First Amendment rights and is unlawful. However, the company has not revealed whether it intends to file a lawsuit.

Opponents of the ban, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and trade group NetChoice, which represents Google and TikTok, have deemed the law unconstitutional. The ACLU of Montana’s policy director, Keegan Medrano, expressed concern that the state legislature trampled on the free speech rights of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app for self-expression, information gathering, and running small businesses, all under the pretext of anti-Chinese sentiment.

The concerns surrounding TikTok stem from worries that the Chinese government could access personal information of U.S. citizens or exploit the platform to disseminate pro-Beijing misinformation. TikTok denies these allegations, while ByteDance, its parent company, dismisses claims that it serves as a propaganda tool for the Chinese government.

In addition to the TikTok ban, Governor Gianforte announced the prohibition of social media applications tied to foreign adversaries on state devices and for state businesses in Montana, effective from June 1. Apps such as WeChat and Telegram Messenger are among those specified in the ban.

Montana’s ban on TikTok prohibits app downloads in the state and imposes fines of $10,000 per day on entities, including app stores and TikTok, for each instance where the app or access to it is offered. The penalties do not apply to individual users.

While many Montana lawmakers support the ban, experts anticipate that the state will face legal challenges in defending the legislation. Advocacy groups and TikTok users who oppose the ban are likely to voice their criticism. TikTok’s engaging and user-friendly content has contributed to its immense popularity, leading other major tech companies like Snapchat and Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) to view it as a competitive threat.

TikTok has mobilized influencers and small businesses to push back against the ban. However, there are independent users like content creator Adam Botkin, who enjoys a significant following on TikTok and Instagram, expressing concerns about the actions of lawmakers. Botkin acknowledges the need to adapt to changes but refuses to circumvent the ban using a virtual private network (VPN).

Efforts to restrict TikTok have been ongoing since 2020 when former President Donald Trump sought to ban the app through an executive order, which was subsequently blocked by federal courts. President Joe Biden’s administration initially suspended those plans but has recently threatened to ban the app unless its Chinese owners divest their stakes.

Montana’s TikTok ban aligns with a broader movement to limit social media use among children and teenagers. Some states have enacted laws requiring parental consent for minors to use social media platforms. Various bills in Congress also address the issue, including one that prohibits social media use for children under 13 and mandates guardian permission for users under 18.

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Why did Montana ban TikTok?

Montana banned TikTok to protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, as stated by Governor Greg Gianforte.

What is the first state to ban TikTok?

Montana is the first state in the U.S. to ban TikTok.

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