May 22, 2023 - Technology

TikTok sues Montana over ban, alleging First Amendment violation

The TikTok logo. Photo: Onur Dogman/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

TikTok filed a lawsuit Monday challenging Montana's new statewide ban of the popular social media platform.

Why it matters: The suit, which names Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen as the defendant, alleges that the ban of the Chinese-owned app over security concerns would violate the First Amendment and other laws.

Driving the news: The latest suit seeks to prevent the state from "unlawfully" banning the platform, which "empowers hundreds of thousands of users in Montana to communicate and express themselves."

  • TikTok alleges that Montana enacted the "extraordinary and unprecedented measures based on nothing more than unfounded speculation," claiming that the state has not proven that the Chinese government can access user data.
  • "Montana’s ban abridges freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment, violates the U.S. Constitution in multiple other respects, and is preempted by federal law," the lawsuit states.

The other side: Knudsen vowed last week to defend any legal challenges.

  • "TikTok is a Chinese Communist Party spying tool that poses a threat to every Montanan," he said, thanking Gov. Greg Gianforte and the Montana legislature "for working with me to protect Montanans' privacy and security."
  • The Montana governor's and attorney general's offices did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Catch up quick: The law, due to take effect Jan. 1, would bar downloads of TikTok in Montana.

  • Officials would issue a $10,000 per day fine to internet service providers and companies each time someone "is offered the ability" to access the platform or download the app, per the law. Users would not be fined.

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