The state of Montana has made history by becoming the first state to pass a comprehensive ban on TikTok, a popular social media app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. The bill, known as SB 419, was passed by the House of Representatives on Friday, 54-43, and is expected to receive a signature from Montana Governor Greg Gianforte. If this does happen, the ban will be effective in January 2024.
The bill was proposed due to fears that the Chinese government could use the app for espionage purposes. It would prohibit the app from operating in Montana and impose penalties of up to $10,000 per day for app stores or entities facilitating its download. Opponents of the bill, such as the ACLU, say it violates the First Amendment and is a form of censorship.
The passage of this bill could set a precedent for other Republican-led states to follow, leading to a potential wave of TikTok bans across the nation. It could also encourage Congress to pursue a federal ban on the app. While a federal ban seemed unlikely just a few months ago, there are now around half a dozen bills floating around D.C. that would end up with TikTok being banned.
The left is fuming.
“Montana’s TikTok bill is censorship, plain and simple,” ACLU senior policy counsel Jenna Leventoff said in a statement. “Montanans deserve better than to have their representatives violate their free speech rights by cutting them off from a unique platform that allows them to speak their minds, exchange information, and learn new things.”
The TikTok ban in Montana could have far-reaching implications for the app’s future in the United States. If more states follow Montana’s lead, TikTok may have no choice but to agree to a forced spinoff of its US business. This could lead to a future where widespread TikTok bans.