Montana Lawmakers Approve Statewide Bill to Ban TikTok

Montana became the first US state on Friday to pass legislation banning TikTok on all personal devices, sending a bill to Gov. Greg Gianforte prohibiting TikTok from operating within state lines and barring app stores from offering TikTok for downloads.

via: Complex

According to Gizmodo, the state’s House of Representatives approved legislation that would prohibit the social media company from operating within the Treasure State. The bill, SB 419, was passed by a vote of 54-43 on Friday, more than a month after Montana’s state senate approved the measure on a 30-20 vote.

Proponents of the bill have expressed security concerns over TikTok and the way it could potentially be used to push misinformation or propaganda. Though U.S. officials have not provided any evidence to support this theory, a number of lawmakers say ByteDance—the Chinese tech company that owns TikTok—could harvest data from U.S. users and then give to the Chinese government for nefarious purposes.

“TikTok endangers the safety of Montanans and Americans at large,” said Montana state Sen. Shelley Vance, one of the bill’s primary co-authors. “We know that beyond a doubt that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is operating as a surveillance arm of the Chinese Communist Party and gathers information about Americans against their will.”

The legislation will allow Montana to bar TikTok downloads in the state, as well as enforce hefty penalties for app stores and other entities that offer access to the video-sharing app. Companies that violate the law could be hit with a $10,000 fine for each violation. The penalties would not be applied to individual users.

TikTok has since responded to Friday’s historic vote, saying the proposed law was a threat to Americans’ constitutional rights.

“The bill’s champions have admitted that they have no feasible plan for operationalizing this attempt to censor American voices and that the bill’s constitutionality will be decided by the courts,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement to Montana Right Now. “We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach.”

The bill must now be approved by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, who previously banned TikTok on all state government devices. If he signs the measure, Montana will become the first U.S. state to ban the popular social media app.

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