Social Media

TikTok sues Montana over its statewide app ban

TikTok argues Montana's constitutional and national security justifications for banning the app don't hold water.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signs a law banning TikTok in the state
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte.
Montana Governor's Office / AP
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TikTok sued in U.S. district court Monday to challenge Montana's statewide ban of the app, arguing that the ban represents a violation of users' First Amendment rights.

TikTok also took issue with Montana's national security justifications.

Montana said part of its reason for banning the app was because TikTok's access to user data presented a privacy risk to users, specifically from China and from TikTok's parent company ByteDance. 

"Foreign adversaries' collection and use of Montanans' personal information and data from social media applications infringe on Montanans' constitutionally guaranteed individual right to privacy," Gov. Gianforte said in a statement when he signed the ban.

TikTok argues in the filing that Montana's doesn't have legal authority to make such decisions — saying regulation of national security rests with the federal government. 

TikTok also argues that the ban violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prevents states from unduly restricting interstate trade. TikTok says Montana's ban puts too many limits from one state on a nationwide and international platform.

TikTok creator suing Montana says the app is her 'livelihood'
TikTok creator suing Montana says the app is her 'livelihood'

TikTok creator suing Montana says the app is her 'livelihood'

Goddard says the move by Gov. Greg Gianforte is a threat to her livelihood, as most of her family’s income comes from brand deals.

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Several TikTok users in Montana filed a separate suit against the state over the ban, just hours after the legislation was signed. For some, a ban would have far-reaching consequences.

"This is my livelihood, and I mean this money — I use it for bills, to put food on the table for my family. And I just feel like it's going to have this huge impact on me. And my husband and I have even been talking about moving if, you know, it doesn't get reversed," said TikTok user and content creator Carly Goddard.

If Montana's ban goes forward, it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024. Individual users won't be penalized for having TikTok on their devices, but app stores like those run by Apple or Google, or any other platform that offers apps for download, will face fines of $10,000 per day if they make TikTok available for download.