UPDATE, NOV. 30: A federal judge in Montana on Thursday blocked a statewide ban of TikTok from taking effect on Jan. 1.
Judge Donald W. Molloy said Montana must “act within the constitutional legal context,” and he granted a preliminary injunction to stop the TikTok ban. He added a ban of the app most likely violated the First Amendment and a clause that gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations.
Today’s ruling prevents the nation’s first such prohibition on the popular video app for now. Legal experts believe no one will challenge today’s Montanta ruling.
The Supreme Court may consider legal challenges to state laws governing how social media moderates content.
The Montana residents filed their complaint on Wednesday in federal court in Missoula. They also argued that the state doesn’t have authority over national security issues.
EARLIER: Montana is now the first U.S. state to completely ban TikTok. Today, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a measure prohibiting downloads in the state of the popular app.
Violators face a fine of $10,000 per day for each time an entity offers the ability to download or access the TikTok platform. The penalties do not apply to individual users.
The measure will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, but will be challenged legally. TikTok itself has not said whether it will head to court.
The governor was firm in his advocacy for a TikTok-free Montana.
“Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party,” Gianforte said in a statement.
“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,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement.
The ACLU of Montana and NetChoice, a trade group that counts Google and TikTok as its members, also called the law unconstitutional.
Montana’s push is about more than stopping the dance videos, animal behaviors, and food consumption that are the staples of the app’s performances. Some officials have voiced concerns about the Chinese-owned parent company using data and subtle propaganda to curry influence.
On Wednesday, Gianforte also announced he was prohibiting the use of all social media applications tied to foreign adversaries on state equipment and for state businesses in Montana effective on June 1. That includes WeChat, whose parent company is headquartered in China; and Telegram Messenger, founded in Russia.