Montana Becomes the First State to Ban TikTok

History was made this week when it was revealed that Montana residents would become the first in the U.S. to be banned from using TikTok on their personal phones. But can they do that? Everybody is surprised by the forceful mandate of the ban and how it gets daringly close to crossing the line of human rights. It has even been called unconstitutional.

Cybersecurity experts say it could be difficult to enforce the ban for these and other reasons.

The video-sharing platform TikTok boasts a user base of 200,000 individuals in Montana, along with approximately 6,000 businesses that actively utilize the platform. All of these individuals and organizations will have to find a new outlet by January 1st of next year.

Under the Montana legislation, platforms like the Google Play Store and the Apple Store that make the TikTok app available for download will face penalties of up to $10,000 per day for any infringements; the same fines apply to TikTok anytime someone “is offered the ability” to access the app.

The spokesperson for TikTok, Brooke Oberwetter, expressed that this law challenges people’s First Amendment rights and declares it unlawful.

“We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana,” said Oberwetter

This is why the public is expecting the bill to be challenged legally in federal court.

While Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte says, “Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party,”

The paranoia that surrounds the government in relation to China’s ulterior motives with TikTok is no secret. Although there is no concrete proof of the Chinese government accessing TikTok user data, skeptics of the platform highlight Chinese laws that grant the government the authority to obtain a company’s customer information.

Supporters of the legislation in Montana assert that the Chinese government has the potential to collect American user data from TikTok and exploit the platform to disseminate pro-Beijing disinformation or propaganda to the public.

This aligns with the viewpoints expressed by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in the United States Senate, as well as the leaders of the FBI and the CIA. They have all expressed concerns that TikTok, due to its affiliation with ByteDance, a company based in Beijing, and operating under Chinese jurisdiction, could pose a significant national security risk.

This is why the president of the United States has been considering an all-out ban if ByteDance cannot find an American buyer.

Supporters of the ban also argue that TikTok’s addictive nature can negatively impact mental health, particularly among young users. The platform’s algorithm-driven content consumption has raised concerns about excessive screen time, cyberbullying, and body image issues.

While opponents of the ban argue that it may have limited impact since users can easily circumvent the ban by using virtual private networks (VPNs) or accessing the platform through other means.

Whatever the case may be, Montana’s ban on TikTok marks a significant milestone in the regulation of social media platforms in the United States. The decision reflects growing concerns about data security and user privacy while also raising questions about personal freedom and the role of state governments in digital governance. Whether this ban will pave the way for broader regulations or face legal challenges remains to be seen. However, it undoubtedly serves as a reminder of the power of digital platforms in our society.


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