A group of users TikTok has sued the state of Montana in an attempt to overturn its plan to ban the app as of January 1, 2024.
The complaint was filed Wednesday night in the United States District Court for the District of Montana, just hours after Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed a bill banning the enforcement of Chinese property over concerns that it could affect the national security of the United States.
In court documents, the group of five TikTok users said: “Montana does not have the authority to enact laws that advance what it believes should be the foreign policy of the United States or its national security interests, nor can Montana prohibit an entire forum for communication, based on its perceptions that any speech shared via that forum, though protected by the First Amendment, is dangerous.”
He added: “Montana can’t ban its residents from viewing or posting on TikTok any more than the Wall Street Journal could because of who owns it or the ideas it posts.”
US authorities have long expressed concern that Beijing-based TikTok owner ByteDance could be interfered with by the Chinese government and therefore view the app as a national security risk. A former ByteDance executive recently claimed that the Chinese Community Party “maintained supreme access” to TikTok data stored in the United States. when he worked for the company between 2017 and 2018. Others claim that Chinese authorities could even influence the app’s algorithm to serve up pro-China content. TikTok has always denied any wrongdoing.
While more than half of the US states have already banned TikTok on federal devices, Montana this week became the first to introduce a law banning it statewide. Fines will be handed out to companies like Apple, Google and TikTok if they allow app downloads in the state, though people who continue to use TikTok won’t be punished. It remains to be seen if other states will take similar steps as Montana, and if more TikTok users will come forward and sue the state in an attempt to block the controversial ban.
TikTok is a very popular app, and the company claims to have 150 million users in the United States and more than 1 billion worldwide. But with many lawmakers from across the political divide putting pressure on the app and its creator, the future of TikTok in the United States is far from clear.