TikTok sues Montana over unconstitutional app ban violating free speech rights
TikTok has filed a lawsuit in a US federal court to prevent the state of Montana from implementing a ban on the video-sharing app, claiming the move violates the right to free speech. Set to commence in 2024, the ban was signed into law by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte on May 17, who cited the protection of Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party as the reason behind the decision.
In response to the ban, TikTok stated…
“The state has enacted these extraordinary and unprecedented measures based on nothing more than unfounded speculation.”
Last week, five TikTok users also filed a separate lawsuit, urging a federal court to overturn Montana’s ban because it infringes upon their free speech rights, reported Bangkok Post.
Both lawsuits argue that the state is attempting to exercise national security power, which is the federal government’s domain and is violating free speech rights in the process. TikTok requested the federal court to declare the Montana ban unconstitutional and prevent the state from enforcing it. The lawsuit filed by TikTok users stated…
“Montana can no more ban its residents from viewing or posting to TikTok than it could ban the Wall Street Journal because of who owns it or the ideas it publishes.”
Owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, TikTok faced accusations from numerous US politicians of being under the control of the Chinese government and acting as a tool for espionage by Beijing, allegations the company vehemently denies.
As the first US state to ban TikTok, Montana’s law will serve as a legal test for a potential national ban of the platform, which is increasingly being advocated by lawmakers in Washington. The ban stipulates that each violation, including accessing or downloading TikTok, is punishable by a US$10,000 fine per day.
The law requires Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores, with companies facing potential daily fines. The ban will take effect in 2024 but will be annulled if TikTok is acquired by a company incorporated in a country not designated as a foreign adversary by the United States.
This development marks the latest in a series of conflicts between TikTok and various Western governments, as the app has already been banned on government devices in the United States, Canada, and several European countries.
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