Montana Passes Bill to Ban TikTok, Raises Concerns Over Chinese Government Connections

Montana lawmakers have passed a bill to ban TikTok in the state due to concerns over the Chinese-owned social media app's alleged connections to the Chinese government.[0] The legislation, which is set to take effect on January 1, 2024, specifically names TikTok as the target of the bill and outlines potential penalties of $10,000 per violation per day, which would also apply to any app store found to have violated the law.[0] However, individual users of TikTok would not be penalized for accessing the app.[1]

TikTok has responded to the ban by citing the First Amendment and hinting at a possible lawsuit.[2] A TikTok spokesperson stated that the bill's champions have admitted that they have no feasible plan for operationalizing this attempt to censor American voices and that the bill's constitutionality will be decided by the courts.[3] The aggressive crackdown on TikTok in Montana comes as the Biden administration continues to negotiate with the company about its future in the US. Last month, White House officials told TikTok to divest from its Beijing-based corporate parent company, ByteDance, or risk facing a nationwide shutdown.[4]

Opponents of the Montana bill, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), say it would violate the First Amendment and be a disaster for freedom of expression.[5] In a letter sent to lawmakers, the ACLU and five other civil liberties organizations said they had failed to prove TikTok poses any immediate harm to Montana residents.[6] The GOP-controlled Montana House of Representatives sent the bill to Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, who can now sign the measure into law.[4] However, the legislation could quickly face significant legal challenges.[1]

Besides being worried about the content spread to Americans by some TikTok creators, the US government is concerned about the company that owns TikTok, a Chinese firm called ByteDance. Like all Chinese technology companies, ByteDance may be obliged to surrender data from American TikTok users to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).[2] Since TikTok is owned by ByteDance, the fear is that the Chinese Communist Party could request access to the 150 million TikTok accounts in America and potentially spy on US citizens or use the personal data to mount disinformation campaigns on the app.

A patchwork of state TikTok bans could also encourage lawmakers in Congress to pursue their own federal TikTok ban.[6] While that seemed unlikely just a few months ago, lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle seemed united in their aggressive stance towards TikTok during a combative hearing with the company's CEO last month.[6] There are currently around half a dozen bills floating around Washington, DC, that, one way or another, would end up with TikTok banned.[6]

0. “Montana Lawmakers Have Voted To Ban TikTok” BuzzFeed News, 14 Apr. 2023,

1. “Montana lawmakers vote to completely ban TikTok in the state” CBS Miami, 14 Apr. 2023,

2. “TikTok is one signature away from getting banned in a U.S. state” PhoneArena, 15 Apr. 2023,

3. “Montana Passes Bill Banning TikTok, Which Vows to Continue to ‘Fight for First Amendment Rights’” Variety, 14 Apr. 2023,

4. “Montana becomes 1st state to approve a full ban of TikTok” WBUR News, 14 Apr. 2023,

5. “TikTok faces ban in Montana as US backlash continues” Bangkok Post, 14 Apr. 2023,

6. “Montana Just Passed the First State TikTok Ban” Gizmodo, 14 Apr. 2023,

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