Montana has become the first state to issue a complete and total ban on TikTok, even on personal devices. Governor Greg Gianforte signed the law on Wednesday, May 17, with the rule formally taking effect on January 1, 2024, BBC News reports. The politician believes that the ban would reflect “our shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance.” It follows the state’s December 2022 decision to ban the app from government devices.
TikTok, however, has spoken out against the ban in Montana, saying it has “hundreds of thousands of people” with accounts in the state. It also claimed that the law “infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana.”
The statement added: “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.”
Not everyone was in support of the law, with the measure only narrowly passing by a vote of 54 to 43. TikTok plans to appeal the ban in court.
There is, of course, one minor caveat. While the TikTok ban in Montana will make it illegal for app stores to offer the social media platform, the law doesn’t affect those who already have TikTok downloaded. That means anyone in the state who would still like to use the service has until December 31 of this year to do so.
Montana imposes penalties on companies that break the law of up to $10,000, enforceable by Montana’s Department of Justice. There will be no legal ramifications for personal users.
The US government previously suggested that ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, should sell it to avoid a total ban across the country. TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew said that while the app can access user data, it would never spy on users. However, it was revealed that TikTok employees had used journalist accounts to access their personal information.
Our social media habits are always being used to market to us, but Montana clearly believes it’s more nefarious than that.