TikTok sues Montana over controversial state ban
On Monday, TikTok sued Montana over a new law that would ban the app statewide next year.
The lawsuit comes less than a week after Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed SB 419, the first state bill to ban the popular video app. The law, set to go into effect January 2024, would prohibit TikTok from operating “within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana” and would force mobile app stores to make the app unavailable for download within the state.
“We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana,” Brooke Oberwetter, TikTok spokesperson, said in a statement Monday. “We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts.”
TikTok’s lawsuit follows much of the criticism civil liberties groups like the ACLU have raised since the bill was first passed by the Montana state legislature in April. The suit claims that the ban is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment. TikTok also argues that it’s unlawful for states to implement these bans, claiming that the federal government has the sole authority to remedy threats to national security.
TikTok’s Monday suit is the second challenging the Montana ban. Last Thursday, a group of TikTok creators filed their own lawsuit, calling it unconstitutional and infringing on their free speech rights.
While Montana’s ban is the first state ban to be approved, TikTok has previously challenged other federal attempts to ban its app nationwide. US federal judges have blocked attempts to ban that and other Chinese apps like WeChat, stemming from executive orders signed by former President Donald Trump.
Last Thursday, Eric Ebenstein, TikTok’s vice president for public policy, told CNN that the national security complaints raised by Montana, state lawmakers, and federal policymakers were unjustified.
“National security concerns are rightly within the purview of the federal government,” Ebenstein said Thursday. “That’s not within the basis of governance for Montana or any other state. We think there’s probably a reason why no other state currently has a similar bill. This is an outlier.”