Montana: Montana’s House gave final passage Friday to a bill banning the social media app TikTok from operating in the state, a move that’s bound to face legal challenges but also serve as a testing ground for the TikTok-free America many national lawmakers envision.
The House voted 54-43 in favour of the measure, which would make Montana the first state with a total ban on the app. It goes further than prohibitions already put in place by nearly half the states — including Montana — and the US federal government that prohibit TikTok on government-owned devices.
The measure now goes to Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, who declined to say Friday if he plans to sign it into law. A statement provided by spokesperson Brooke Metrione said the governor “will carefully consider” all bills the Legislature sends to his desk.
Gianforte banned TikTok on state government devices last year, saying at the time that the app posed a “significant risk” to sensitive state data.
TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter promised a legal challenge over the measure’s constitutionality, saying the bill’s supporters “have admitted that they have no feasible plan” to enforce “this attempt to censor American voices.”
The company “will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach,” Oberwetter said.
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, whose office drafted the state’s legislation, said in a social media post Friday that the bill “is a critical step to ensuring we are protecting Montanans’ privacy,” even as he acknowledged that a court battle looms.
The measure would prohibit downloads of TikTok in the state and would fine any “entity” — an app store or TikTok — $10,000 per day for each time someone “is offered the ability” to access or download the app. There would not be penalties for users.
The ban would not take effect until January 2024 and would become void if Congress passes a national measure or if TikTok severs its connections with China.