Well, we knew it was probably going to happen, but now it’s official. Montana has just become the first US state to outright ban the popular social media app TikTok. Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed legislation yesterday (May 17th) to ban the Chinese-owned app from operating in the state.
The move was allegedly to protect residents from the threat of spying and data collection by the Chinese government. It is the first of the 50 states to implement a total ban.
It will now be unlawful for Apple’s and Google’s app stores to offer the app within the state of Montana. However, any individuals using the app will not be breaking any laws. The new law will go into effect as from January 1 2024, although it is almost certain to face legal challenges.
TikTok issued a statement saying that the new law “infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok” and said it will “continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.”
The potential effect on small businesses, not to mention freedom of speech, is ironic. The ban is aiming to protect citizens’ rights and yet somehow manages to restrict those same rights in the process.
At this point in time, over 150 million American citizens have downloaded the app, with 67% of all teens using it. A complete ban on the app will be sure to face considerable backlash. As we have seen in the past, banning something only makes it all the more alluring.
The app has already faced bans from government devices in the US and several countries in Europe. TikTok and its parent company Byte Dance have taken measures to try to allay security fears.