Five TikTok users from the US state of Montana, which recently signed legislation banning TikTok from its territory, have filed suit in federal court to block the state’s ban on the Chinese platform. Plaintiffs allege that the new state law violates the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech.
The law, signed into law by Montana’s governor on Wednesday, would ban TikTok from January 1, 2024, under threat of fines against the social network owner. In addition, the mobile application must be blocked for Montana users on the Google Play and App Store websites. The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Montana, alleges that the state intends to exercise national security powers to which it is not entitled. In addition, Montana must not restrict the right to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
State officials said they expected opposition and were ready for a legal battle. TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is under increasing pressure in the US and some other countries as Chinese authorities are likely to process user data and influence network users.
A TikTok spokesperson said the company will continue to work to protect the rights of its users in Montana and beyond. In return, the state governor said the law would continue to be upheld “Overall priority is protecting the people of Montana from Chinese Communist Party surveillance”. TikTok has repeatedly stated that it has never shared data with Chinese authorities.
Authorities in the state of Montana, which has a population of just over a million, said any TikTok violator of the law faces fines and an additional $10,000 a day in fines until the violations are fixed. The plaintiffs have a chance to restore TikTok’s position. It is known that Donald Trump’s attempt to block the social network in the country did not find understanding in the courts of various instances, and the ban never came into force. However, in recent years the situation has changed somewhat – the application can no longer be used by US officials on official devices.