Montana has made history by becoming the first state in the United States to ban the popular Chinese-developed social media app TikTok. Governor Greg Gianforte, a Republican, signed a bill into law aimed at safeguarding Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party.
Under the new rule, which takes effect on January 1, 2024, app stores are prohibited from offering TikTok, and the app itself is barred from conducting business operations within the state. Violators, including app providers, could face a hefty fine of $10,000, while individual users will not be penalized if they already have the app on their devices.
The ban has sparked concerns over potential lawsuits challenging the restriction on the grounds of freedom of expression. Similar cybersecurity concerns have led to TikTok being banned on government-issued devices in several other countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and the United States.
TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, boasts over a billion users worldwide and enjoys significant popularity in the United States and Europe. The app’s widespread usage has raised apprehensions that the Chinese authorities and intelligence services may exploit it for data collection or to exert influence.
Despite these concerns, TikTok has consistently denied the allegations and maintained that it prioritizes user privacy and security.