In an attempt to block Montana’s recent ban on its social media platform, TikTok has taken legal action by filing a lawsuit on Monday. Last week, Montana became the first U.S. state to implement a comprehensive ban on the Chinese-owned video-sharing app. TikTok claims that the ban infringes upon the free speech rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
TikTok has faced increasing scrutiny from authorities worldwide due to concerns about potential data sharing with the Chinese government. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Montana, seeks to overturn the ban, deeming it “unlawful.” A TikTok spokesperson stated that the legal challenge aims to protect the company’s business interests and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana. They expressed confidence in the lawsuit’s success, citing strong legal precedents and factual evidence.
The lawsuit argues that the ban violates the First Amendment right to free speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. TikTok claims that the ban unconstitutionally shuts down a platform for all users, suppressing speech in the process. The ban, scheduled to take effect in January 2024, prohibits app stores from offering TikTok but does not prevent existing users from accessing the app.
Montana, with a population of just over one million, initially prohibited the use of TikTok on government devices in December of the previous year. TikTok boasts 150 million American users, primarily consisting of teenagers and individuals in their twenties. Nonetheless, concerns about national security risks associated with TikTok have emerged across the U.S. political spectrum.
As a Chinese-owned company, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has consistently denied any control by the Chinese government. The lawsuit further asserts that Montana has exceeded its authority by involving itself in data privacy and national security matters, which fall under federal jurisdiction. It contests the ban as grounded in baseless speculation about China’s potential access to TikTok data.
Montana’s government lawyers anticipate legal challenges and have expressed readiness to defend the ban in court.