Social media company TikTok Inc. filed a lawsuit Monday to overturn Montana’s first-in-the-nation ban on the video-sharing app, arguing that the law is an unconstitutional violation of free speech rights and is based on “unfounded speculation” that the Chinese government could access user data.
TikTok’s lawsuit follows one filed last week by five content creators who made the same arguments, including that the status of Montana has no authority to take action on matters of national security. Both lawsuits were filed in federal court in Missoula.
Republican Governor Greg Gianforte signed the bill on wednesday and the content creators’ lawsuit was filed hours later. The law is scheduled to go into effect on January 1.
TikTok has not and would not share US user data with the Chinese government and has taken steps to protect the privacy and security of its users, including storing all US user data in the United States, the company claims in its complaint.
Some lawmakers, FBI and other agency officials are concerned that the video-sharing app, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, could be used to allow the Chinese government access to information about US citizens or push pro-Beijing misinformation. that could influence the public.
Chinese law requires Chinese companies to share data with the government for any purpose it deems related to national security. TikTok says this has never happened.
“TikTok is spying on Americans. Period,” Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, whose office wrote the bill, told a legislative committee in March. Knudsen’s office has said they expected lawsuits and were prepared to defend the new law.
The federal government and about half of the US states, including Montana, have banned TikTok on government-owned devices.
Montana’s new law bans TikTok downloads in the state. I would fine any “entity”, an app store or TikTok, with $10,000 per day for each time someone is “offered” to access the platform from social networks or download the application. Sanctions would not apply to users.