Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed legislation on Wednesday that effectively bans the short video app TikTok from smartphone marketplaces.
Back in March, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified in front of Congress in an attempt to stop a possible U.S. ban from happening to the ByteDance-owned video-sharing app, and now just over a month later, Montana aims to become the first State to enact legislation that outright bans the app in the State. While the ban isn’t set to occur until January 1st, 2024, Republican Gov. Gianforte counts this as a win for Montana.
In a statement, Gov. Gianforte said “Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party,” CTV reports. Although, the ban doesn’t necessarily outlaw TikTok from inside the State’s borders, or stop it from working.
While the new ban will make it so digital storefronts — such as the Google Pixel app store and other smartphone marketplaces — are unable to offer the app legally, members who already have the app installed on their device will still be able to use it within Montana’s boundaries.
A TikTok spokesperson said this legislation infringes on Montanan’s rights protected by the First Amendment and continued with a tweet saying “We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana,”
Back in December, the U.S. House of Representatives made a motion to remove the app from government officials’ devices, citing potential security and surveillance risks. Policy Director for the ACLU of Montana, Keegan Medrano says the ban “trampled on the free speech of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves, gather information and run their small business, in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment.”
The official legislation banning TikTok doesn’t go into effect until January 1st of 2024, so it’s possible further developments can happen before then.