TikTok users take legal action against Montana over controversial ban

Posted:
in General Discussion
Just days after the state of Montana signed a TikTok ban into law, a group of the platform's users has sued the state, saying it violates their free speech rights.

TikTok users sue Montana
TikTok users sue Montana


A report on May 17 revealed that Governor Greg Gianforte of Montana has approved a bill to prohibit TikTok within the state. However, its implementation isn't scheduled until January 1 and could be reversed.

In the meantime, The New York Times reveals that a group of TikTok users has sued Montana. In their legal complaint, they asserted that the recently signed law infringed upon their rights protected by the First Amendment.

According to the lawsuit filed by plaintiffs, they actively engage in activities such as creating, publishing, viewing, interacting with, and sharing videos on TikTok.

They argued that the ban, endorsed by Governor Greg Gianforte on Wednesday, exceeded the state of Montana's jurisdiction. Although the lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in the US District Court, it was officially recorded in the public court records system on Thursday.

The ban has generated significant protests from TikTok and various organizations advocating for civil liberties and digital rights. Montana legislators and Governor Greg Gianforte, who belongs to the Republican party, argue that the ban is crucial to safeguarding American citizens' data from being accessed by the Chinese government.

TikTok is currently under the ownership of the Chinese company ByteDance.

The company will face penalties per legal regulations for operating its app in the state. Companies like Google and Apple will incur fines if they allow TikTok to be downloaded in Montana.

Montana enacted its law following the federal government and over twenty-five states banning TikTok from government devices in recent months. Lawmakers and intelligence officials have expressed concerns that TikTok's ownership structure could allow the Chinese government to access sensitive user data.

A state-level TikTok ban likely won't last
A state-level TikTok ban likely won't last


They have also raised the possibility of exploiting the app to disseminate propaganda. On the other hand, TikTok asserts that it has never received any requests to share US user data with the Chinese government, nor has it complied with such requests.

Battling lawsuits

So far, TikTok hasn't announced plans for its own lawsuit. However, Brooke Oberwetter, a spokeswoman for TikTok, said the ban violated the First Amendment rights of individuals in Montana.

She affirmed that TikTok would continue its efforts to protect the rights of its users.

According to Ramya Krishnan, a legal expert from the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, the US Constitution safeguards the rights of Americans to access social media platforms of their preference. Krishnan stated that for a ban to be justified, Montana must provide evidence that their concerns regarding privacy and security were genuine and could not be resolved through more targeted approaches.

"I don't think TikTok has yet committed to suing, but I think it's likely that it will," she said. "Because this is such a dramatic and unconstitutional incursion into the First Amendment rights of Americans, we are certainly thinking through the possibility of getting involved in some way."

Previously, TikTok users effectively prevented the implementation of an app ban. In 2020, a judge ruled in favor of a group of creators who contested President Donald J. Trump's attempt to ban the app. Additionally, TikTok and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, pursued separate lawsuits to halt the president's actions.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,662member
    (Pops popcorn).
    Don’t worry.  There’s enough for everyone.  

    (Insert unsupported popcorn emoji here)
    edited May 2023 beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 2 of 6
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 4,270member
    I am curious about how a state-wide ban is implemented/ enforced. Does the ban mean no one in Montana can use TikTok and that it should not be installed on their phones, or does it mean that no content can be uploaded onto TikTok from Montana?
    What about visitors? Do they need to delete TikTok before entering the state?
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 6
    waveparticlewaveparticle Posts: 1,497member
    I am curious about how a state-wide ban is implemented/ enforced. Does the ban mean no one in Montana can use TikTok and that it should not be installed on their phones, or does it mean that no content can be uploaded onto TikTok from Montana?
    What about visitors? Do they need to delete TikTok before entering the state?
    The law is evilly crafted. It does not fine the user. 
    bestkeptsecret
  • Reply 4 of 6
    beowulfschmidtbeowulfschmidt Posts: 2,170member
    eriamjh said:
    (Pops popcorn).
    Don’t worry.  There’s enough for everyone.  

    (Insert unsupported popcorn emoji here)

    🍿

    Completely aside from the, ahem...disingenuous statements from TikTok executives, U.S. politicians once again demonstrate how proud they are of their ignorance of technology.
  • Reply 5 of 6
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 1,078member
    I am curious about how a state-wide ban is implemented/ enforced. Does the ban mean no one in Montana can use TikTok and that it should not be installed on their phones, or does it mean that no content can be uploaded onto TikTok from Montana?
    What about visitors? Do they need to delete TikTok before entering the state?
    I'm not sure the details matter much, as this law wasn't passed with any expectation that it would ever go into effect. It is 100% a virtue signaling dog and pony show.

    That said, a bit about how the law purports to work: TikTok users wouldn't be violating the law. TikTok itself and mobile app stores would be the ones violating the law. It would be a violation of the law every time someone (1) accessed TikTok within (the territorial jurisdiction of) Montana, (2) was offered the ability to access TikTok within (the territorial jurisdiction of) Montana, or (3) was offered the ability to download TikTok within (the territorial jurisdiction of) Montana. Every time one of those things happened, TikTok or the mobile app store would be subject to a $10,000 fine.  Apple, e.g., would have to somehow prevent TikTok from being available to download in Montana. It might also need to somehow block TikTok's ability to work in Montana.

    I don't think they were much concerned with whether the law was at all feasible - i.e., whether it would be practical for covered entities to comply with it - because, again, even those who enacted the law (assuming they have measurable brain function) don't expect that it will ever go into effect. It's blatantly unconstitutional for multiple reasons.
    edited May 2023 bestkeptsecretmuthuk_vanalingambeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 6 of 6
    The whole thing with banning this app is so ridiculous. They just made it more popular among the US users I guess. 
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