TikTok files paperwork to US courts and asks to lift the ban on the social media video-sharing app in Montana, a US state, declaring it a violation of free speech rights. TikTok asked a US judge to block the enforcement of the Montana ban, which would be in effect from January 1 next year. Montana Governor signed a law by which the Chinese-owned video-sharing app would be unable to operate in this American state from next year and accused it of stealing personal user information. TikTok declared this action an open violation of free speech.
TikTok filed a lawsuit in May and, this Wednesday, asked the US District Judge Donald W Molloy to issue a ruling to block the first-of-its-kind ban on a social media app by any US state, arguing it violates the First Amendment free speech rights of the chines company and its users. Global Business Solutions President of TikTok, Blake Chandlee, said in the court filing that a ban on the company in the state of Montana would cause irreversible damage to the company’s business in the country as well globally. He added it would also disturb the relations with advertisers and damage customer trust worldwide.
The app TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, is stating that the ban imposed on it is not valid because it goes against federal law. They argue that it interferes with matters that only the federal government should handle and violates the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, which restricts state legislation that may harm foreign and interstate trade. There are more than 150 million active users on TikTok only from the US, and there has been a rise in the phone calls from US officials to the Chinese company accusing them of a big influence of the Beijing government on TikTok.
TikTok Claims top Level Security of User Data
TikTok repeatedly insists that they don’t share user data with anyone, not even the Chinese government, and they have a strict policy. They have substantial measures for customer data protection. Chandlee added that if the ban continues and starts its enforcement, it would damage the company, and more business partners would pull back from the company. TikTok may face fines of up to $10,000 for each violation in Montana, but the law does not impose any penalties on individual TikTok users.
According to Tiktok, around 380,000 Montanian people use the video-sharing app, which becomes more than one-third of the state’s total population of 1.1 million. In 2020, President Donald Trump tried to prevent new downloads and transactions of TikTok and WeChat, which are owned by the Chinese company Tencent. The companies stated that this could have led to a ban on the apps being used in the US. However, the bans were blocked by a series of court decisions.
The lawsuit filed by TikTok mentions the Montana Attorney General, Austin Knudsen, who is responsible for enforcing the law. However, there has been no response from Knudsen’s office to a request for comment made on Wednesday. Montana Governor signed the rule, which would be in effect from next year, but all government-owned devices were prohibited from the installation of the video-sharing app. The state Government faced much criticism at that time from different social media channels and even mainstream media. There are not any remarks by the US courts and not from the Montana state.
Recently American federal courts have limited the US government from approaching any social media company to limit the content. This action by the courts shows their seriousness in regard to speech freedom.