Montana governor bans TikTok, becoming first state to ban social media app

New York (CNN) Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill Wednesday banning TikTok in the state.

Gianforte Tweeted He banned TikTok in Montana, making it the first state to officially ban the social media use “to protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party.”

The controversial law marks the state government’s highest step yet to regulate TikTok over perceived security concerns and comes as some federal lawmakers have called for a national ban on TikTok. But it is expected that a case will be filed against it in court.

The bill, which takes effect in January, specifically targets TikTok, banning the app from operating within state borders. The law outlines that violators can be fined up to $10,000 per day, including app stores found to host social media use.

Last month, lawmakers in Montana’s House of Representatives They voted 54-43 to pass the billKnown as SB419, it sends it to Gianforte’s desk.

In a statement to CNN, TikTok is pushing to protect the rights of users in Montana.

“Governor Gianforte has signed a bill that violates the First Amendment rights of Montanans by illegally banning TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state. We want to reassure them that they can continue to use TikTok to express themselves. As we continue to work to protect the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana, They themselves, earn a living and find society.”

The legislation comes as TikTok faces growing criticism for its ties to China. TikTok is owned by the Chinese company Byte Dance. Although there is no evidence that the Chinese government has ever accessed the personal information of US-based TikTok users, several US officials have expressed fears that the Chinese government could access US data via TikTok for espionage purposes.

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NetChoice, a tech trade group that includes TikTok as a member, said the Montana bill was unconstitutional.

“Government does not impede the ability to access constitutionally protected speech — whether it’s in a newspaper, on a website or through an app. In implementing this law, Montana is flouting the U.S. Constitution by denying access to due process and free speech. The website and apps their citizens want to use,” said NetChoice. General Counsel Carl Szabo said.

The ACLU pushed back on the bill, issuing a statement saying, “With this ban, Governor Gianforte and the Montana Legislature have crushed the free speech rights of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves, gather information and run their small businesses in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment.”

On Wednesday, Gianforte signed a separate executive order banning the use of any social media app “linked to foreign adversaries” on government devices, including ByteDance-owned CapCut and Lemon8, as well as the Russian-founded Telegram messenger.

— CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this report.

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