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TikTok sues Montana over its controversial new law banning the app

YUICHI YAMAZAKI / Contributor / Getty Images
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Last week, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a law that banned TikTok in the state. Now the company is hitting back with a lawsuit that aims to keep the app available to Montanans.

In the complaint, TikTok argues that Montana’s ban violates the Constitution by limiting the company’s right to host and distribute user-created content. TikTok also argues that Montana is overstepping its role by attempting to legislate matters of national security rather than deferring to federal regulators, placing an undue burden on its ability to conduct interstate business in the process.

TikTok is asking the court for an injunction to block Montana’s ban, which, if granted, would allow the app to conduct business as usual in the state while the courts sort out the relevant issues.

“We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana,” TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter told TechCrunch. “We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts.”

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TikTok has faced increasing pressure in the U.S. from Congress and state legislatures alike in recent months. Rules against TikTok on government-owned devices and college networks were already popping up, but Montana’s blanket ban on access to the app escalates those threats considerably, even if it’s not clear how a state-level ban on a specific app could be enforced.

“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,” Gianforte said last week, alluding to unsubstantiated claims that the app shares data with the Chinese government.

Last week, five TikTok creators filed their own lawsuit against the state, similarly arguing that the Montana ban violates the First Amendment. “The law takes the broadest possible approach to its objectives, restricting and banning the protected speech of all TikTok users in Montana to prevent the speculative and unsubstantiated possibility that the Chinese government might direct TikTok Inc., or its parent, to spy on some Montana users,” the creators argued.

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