The Governor of Montana, Greg Gianforte, condemned TikTok’s association with the Chinese Communist Government and restricted the app in his state. Gianforte has signed a law to ban TikTok in his state. The state is the first to restrict the Chinese app in the United States. The law will be enforced from January 1, 2024, and people of Montana State will be unable to use TikTok, and the administration will write a letter to app stores to prohibit application downloads. Some tech companies feared this law would limit freedom of speech and saw it as a violation of their amendment rights.
The American Civil Liberties Union responded to the Wednesday act and tweeted that the law would abolish the rights of independent speech and would be a step in excessive government control over the internet. They added that governments have no right to ban any social media app based on its association with any country.
The TikTok app is owned by a Chinese-based internet technology company ByteDance and now has more than a billion users globally. Around 150 million active users are from America alone, and the app has 7000 employees from the United States.
TikTok is accused of collecting personal and sensitive data from users that the US thinks might be a threat. But China and the app’s owners repeatedly denied American accusations and said the app would not impose any threats. TikTok has passed all surveillance checks in the United States and other countries that have questions on security and are allied to the Chinese Government.
Governor Gianforte to Widen the Ban
In the recently signed law on Wednesday, Governor promises to protect Montanans and private data from the Chinese communist party’s reach. Gianforte has also issued a memorandum to the state’s information officer and called to widen the ban for more social media apps with foreign ties, including WeChata and Telegram, operated by Chinese firms and launched by a Russian-born entrepreneur.
The memorandum also said any state official using government-issued devices and other technology equipment would be unable to download or access the app as it is claimed TikTok app gives sensitive information to foreign rivals. Gianforte claims TikTok has been harvesting a tremendous amount of user data and personal information, which is irrelevant to the app’s primary video-sharing purpose. The Governor has well written that app provides users’ information and data to the Chinese Government.
There is no confirmation on whether TikTok will file a lawsuit to overturn the ban, but legal actions are expected. The company issued a statement that expresses the rights of freedom of speech on the platform. A spokesperson for the TikTok company stated Montanas people can still use the application and freely express themselves, they can earn money, and they would keep defending the rights of TikTok’s users from inside and outside Montana. Around 30 States have already restricted TikTok from being used on Government owned devices. In recent months, some countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, and India have also enforced some rules to ban the application.