TikTok sued Montana on Monday, just days after Governor Greg Gianforte signed a law that would ban the app in the state. It’s the company’s first official move to the block the ban.
The new law — SB 419 — is the first state-wide ban of the app, and it’s easily the most aggressive ban in the U.S. It follows a ban prohibiting the use of TikTok on government devices in Montana, a far less controversial ruling that mirrors similar bans in other states. SB 419 will go into effect on January 1, 2024 unless the court stops it. TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Mashable.
“We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana,” Brooke Oberwetter, a spokesperson for TikTok, told The Verge(opens in a new tab) in a statement. “We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts.”
The lawsuit argues(opens in a new tab) that Montana’s ban “abridges freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment, violates the U.S. Constitution in multiple other respects, and is preempted by federal law.” This argument isn’t a TikTok PR special — civil liberties groups like the ACLU have raised the exact same criticism of the bill. After Governor Gianforte signed the bill into law, Keegan Medrano, policy director at the ACLU of Montana, said the Montana governor and 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.”
This all comes just a few days after a group of TikTok creators in Montana sued the state for the ban too, also alleging that it violates Montanan’s First Amendment Rights by not allowing state residents to participate in a forum for sharing and receiving speech.
TikTok creators are suing Montana over the ban
“Montana has no authority to enact laws advancing what it believes should be the United States’ foreign policy or its national security interests, nor may Montana ban an entire forum for communication based on its perceptions that some speech shared through that forum, though protected by the First Amendment, is dangerous,” the creator’s suit reads(opens in a new tab). “Montana can no more ban its residents from viewing or posting to TikTok than it could ban the Wall Street Journal because of who owns it or the ideas it publishes.”
It’s unlikely that the ban will go into effect, at least without an admirable fight. But even if it does, there are ways to get around a TikTok ban.