Montana becomes the first state to ban TikTok - The Guardian

Montana has became the first US state to ban TikTok after the governor signed legislation prohibiting mobile application stores from offering the app within the state by next year.

The move is among the most dramatic in a series of US escalations against TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance. TikTok has come under increasing scrutiny over its ties to China, amid concerns that such links could pose a national security threat.

TikTok is one of the world’s most popular social networks with more than 100 million US users, and questions remain about how such bans will be enforced and what their impact will be on creators who use the platform.

Montana’s new law, which will take effect 1 January, prohibits 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 the social media platform or download the app. The penalties would not apply to users.

[Montana governor Greg Gianforte] also prohibited the use of all social media applications that collect and provide personal information or data to foreign adversaries on government-issued devices. Among the apps he listed are WeChat, whose parent company is headquartered in China; and Telegram Messenger, which was founded in Russia.

Meanwhile, internet freedom advocates and others have criticized the US crackdown as amounting to censorship.

Keegan Medrano, policy director for the ACLU of Montana, said the legislature “trampled on the free speech of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves, gather information and run their small business in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment”.

NetChoice, a trade group that counts Google and TikTok as its members, called the bill unconstitutional.

“This is a clear violation of the constitution, which prohibits the government from blocking Americans from accessing constitutionally protected speech online via websites or apps,” Carl Szabo, who serves as the group’s vice-president and general counsel, said in a statement.

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The Guardian

Organizations: ByteDance NetChoice 

People: Greg Gianforte Keegan Medrano Carl Szabo 

Tags: TikTok Censorship Technology 

Type: Headlines