TikTok files lawsuit challenging Montana’s ban of the app

TikTok files lawsuit challenging Montana's ban of the app

Social media app TikTok has filed a lawsuit challenging the state of Montana’s ban of the app calling its complete censure “unconstitutional.”

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

TikTok, which has 150 million monthly users, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court after Montana became the first U.S. State to ban TikTok, effective January 2024.

The state’s republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law on Wednesday, May 17, “To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party,” he wrote on Twitter.

TikTok has also come under fire for being addictive to its largely young user base.

The new lawsuit alleges the first-of-its-kind ban violates First Amendment rights protecting free speech.

The ban “affects a prior restraint on the speech of Plaintiff and other TikTok users, unconstitutionally shutting down the forum for speech for all speakers on the app and singling these speakers out for disfavored treatment with the content-based rationale that videos on TikTok are harmful to minors,” it reads in part.

It adds that security concerns around user data and the Chinese government are within the purview of the federal government, not individual states.

“The TikTok Ban would necessarily disrupt and interfere with that process, which is currently underway,” the suit reads.

In addition, the suit claims that the ban violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, because the state-specific ban interferes with TikTok’s operation, given that it is used nationally and internationally.

It claims, too, that the ban was instated for “purely punitive reasons.”

TikTok is seeking that the ban be invalidated and not be enforced.

Civil liberties and advocacy groups have also taken aim at the ban over its alleged unconstitutional nature.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) slammed the ban, saying “Governor Gianforte and the Montana legislature have trampled on the free speech of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves, gather information, and run their small business in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment. We will never trade our First Amendment rights for cheap political points.”

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