TikTok Users Sue Montana Over Statewide Ban

TikTok Users Sue Montana Over Statewide Ban

Montana became the first US state to ban TikTok to protect its residents from alleged intelligence gathering by China. But now a group of TikTok users, who also create content for the popular video app, have filed a federal lawsuit attempting to block the new law.

The lawsuit, filed on Monday in the US District Court for the District of Montana, claims that the ban violates the First Amendment rights of the plaintiffs, who use TikTok for entertainment, education, and business purposes. The plaintiffs include Keri Williams, a custom hat maker who relies on TikTok for her income; John Doe, a 15-year-old high school student who uses TikTok to cope with his depression and anxiety; and Jane Roe, a 17-year-old aspiring singer who showcases her talent on TikTok.

The plaintiffs argue that TikTok is a platform for free expression and creativity, and that the ban is based on unfounded fears of Chinese espionage. They also contend that the ban is unconstitutional because it interferes with interstate commerce and discriminates against a foreign-owned company without due process.

The ban, which was signed by Governor Greg Gianforte on May 17th, prohibits mobile app stores from offering TikTok within the state by January 1st, 2024. It also imposes a $10,000 fine per day on TikTok if it continues to operate in Montana after that date. The ban was motivated by concerns that TikTok collects personal data from its users and shares it with the Chinese government, which TikTok has repeatedly denied.

TikTok has more than 100 million users in the US and is one of the most downloaded apps in the world. The app allows users to create and share short videos with music, filters, and other effects. TikTok has also become a source of income and fame for many content creators, who earn money from ads, sponsorships, and tips.

The Montana ban is the latest in a series of legal challenges that TikTok has faced in the US over its ownership and security. Last year, former President Donald Trump issued an executive order that sought to ban TikTok or force its sale to a US company, citing national security risks. However, the order was blocked by several federal courts and eventually dropped by President Joe Biden, who ordered a broader review of foreign-owned apps.

The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to prevent the Montana ban from taking effect, as well as damages and attorney fees. They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Montana and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), two civil rights organizations that advocate for digital privacy and free speech.

A spokesperson for TikTok 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.”

Neither Governor Gianforte nor his office responded to requests for comment.

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