Listen to this article here
The Black Wall Street Times

Sign-Up for a free subscription to The Black Wall Street Timesdaily newsletter, Black Editors’ Edition (BEE) – our curated news selections & opinions by us for you.

Montana has officially become the first U.S. state to ban TikTok after Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law on Wednesday. The law is set to take effect in January 2024 and is expected to be challenged.

“To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana,” wrote Gianforte on Twitter.

Governor Gianforte wants to charge $10K per post

The ban has raised concerns from technology experts about how realistic expectations are around enforcement. 

According to CBS News, the governor’s office claims in a news release that “penalties will be enforced by the Montana Department of Justice,” and that anyone in violation of the law is liable to pay $10,000 per violation, and also liable for an additional $10,000 each day the violation continues, according to the text of S.B. 419.

There is no direct evidence that the Chinese government has ever accessed TikTok user data. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress in March that the app’s parent company ByteDance is not an agent of China’s ruling Communist Party.

However, TikTok’s critics point to laws in China that allow the government access to a company’s customer records.

Last December, Gianforte banned TikTok on state government electronic devices

On Wednesday, he added that the ban would expand to include “all social media applications that collect and provide users’ personal information or data to a foreign adversary, or a person or entity located within a country designated as a foreign adversary.” 

“Governor Gianforte has signed a bill that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state,” said TikTok in a statement provided to CBS News. “We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.”

First Amendment rights in question for Montanans

At a hearing about the bill in March, a representative from TechNet said that app stores “do not have the ability to geofence” apps on a state-by-state basis, making it impossible for the restriction to be enforceable in popular app marketplaces, such as the Apple App Store or the Google Play App Store.

Some have also argued that banning the app may infringe users’ First Amendment rights. “Montanans are indisputably exercising their First Amendment rights when they post and consume content on TikTok,” said Jameel Jaffer, executive director at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, in a statement. “Because Montana can’t establish that the ban is necessary or tailored to any legitimate interest, the law is almost certain to be struck down as unconstitutional.”

In March, Gianforte banned TikTok from government devices in Montana, joining the Biden administration, who also banned the platform from all federal employee devices.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply