(DailyVantage.com) – For all the talk within the United States Congress about the need or want to ban the Chinese social media app TikTok, nothing has ever really come of it. The state of Montana took matters into its own hands when legislators passed a statute banning the app from being downloaded and used within the state.
Montana legislators say they are aiming to stop the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from gaining access to American user’s information which the app’s parent company ByteDance may grant. A group of social media influencers who use the platform to post media are now suing the state saying this ban infringes on their First Amendment rights to free speech.
The lawsuit was filed last week contends the state of Montana has “no authority” to enforce laws relating to national security. They also maintain this action is discriminatory against the form of speech TikTok provides its users and members. The firm representing the influencers claims a state has no more power to ban an app over its ownership than it would a newspaper over its ownership.
The governor Greg Gionforte who signed the bill into law maintains he does have the authority and says his priority is keeping his state’s residents vital information out of the hands of the CCP. Montana State Senator Shelley Vance who sponsored the bill called TIkTok a “major threat” to United States security.
TikTok spokesperson and former Biden Administration member Jamal Brown said Gianforte’s ban affects over 200,000 Montanans of which 6,000 are businesses. He said his aim is to get the app back into the state so that these people can express themselves, earn money and find a community on the app where they can feel like they belong.
Montana lawmakers point to issues beyond the data collecting and cite TikTok’s own censorship practices. TikTok CEO Shou Zi testified before Congress earlier in the year and told Congress the CCP does not gather information from the app, although this was disputed by members.
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