On Friday, lawmakers in Montana passed a bill that would prohibit its residents from downloading the TikTok app, making Montana the first US state to impose such a ban.
The legislation forbids app stores from allowing users to download the social media platform and also bars its parent company, ByteDance, from operating within the state.
TikTok criticized Montana’s action as “egregious government overreach,” but the new law will not affect current users’ access to the app. Nevertheless, the move marks the most serious action against TikTok by a US state to date.
Republican politicians are seeking a nationwide prohibition of the app amid concerns that it is being utilized by the Chinese government to spy on Americans.
Last month, TikTok’s CEO was compelled to testify in Congress about allegations that ByteDance has access to US user data. In addition, the White House informed TikTok that it must be divested from its Chinese shareholders or face a ban in the United States.
Despite their efforts to push for a provision that would compel internet providers to block TikTok statewide, Montana legislators ultimately had to accept a watered-down version of the bill.
The legislation passed with a vote of 54 to 43, and Governor Greg Gianforte, a Republican who has already prohibited TikTok on government devices, is anticipated to sign it into law. The bill will go into effect next year, and it will impact Montana’s 1.1 million inhabitants.
App stores may face fines of up to $10,000 if they allow users to download the app. A representative for TikTok remarked that the bill’s supporters have acknowledged that they lack a feasible plan to enforce this effort to stifle American voices and that the bill’s constitutionality will be determined in court.
“We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach,” the spokesperson added.
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