Montana has become the first US state to ban TikTok on all devices, even personal ones, triggering renewed doubts about the short-form video app’s future in the country.
CNN reports the state’s governor, Greg Gianforte, has signed a bill into law that would fine TikTok and online app stores for making the service available to state residents.
It takes effect next year.
The move goes a step beyond other states that have restricted TikTok from government devices. It also comes at a time when some federal lawmakers are pushing for a nationwide ban.
But legal and technology experts say there are huge hurdles for Montana, or any state, to enforce such a law. The TikTok ban immediately prompted one lawsuit from TikTok users who allege it violates their First Amendment rights, with more legal challenges expected.
Even if the law is allowed to stand, the practicalities of the internet may make it impossible to keep TikTok out of the hands of users.
Passed in April, the bill establishes fines of US$10,000 per violation per day, where a single violation is defined as “each time that a user accesses TikTok, is offered the ability to access TikTok, or is offered the ability to download TikTok.”
Individual users themselves would not be on the hook just for accessing TikTok, according to the law.
If the law survives in the courts, TikTok, and companies such as Apple and Google, could be forced to find ways to restrict TikTok from Montana smartphone users — or face huge penalties.
TikTok and other civil society groups warn that the law as written is unconstitutional. There are two main arguments TikTok’s defenders have cited.
One is that the law violates the First Amendment rights of Montanans, by restricting their ability to access legal speech and by infringing on their own rights to free expression through the app.
As with the dozens of other states that have imposed some level of TikTok restrictions, Montana’s government has cited the app as a potential privacy and security risk.
US officials worry that TikTok’s links to China through its parent company, ByteDance, might result in American’s personal information leaking to the Chinese government. That could help China with spying or disinformation campaigns against the United States, according to authorities.
Source : CNN
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