A group of TikTok users has filed a lawsuit to overturn Montana’s new ban on blocking the app, arguing that the law was signed into law this week by the US governor. Greg Gianforte violates the First Amendment.
The complaint, filed late Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana — hours after being signed by the governor — compares TikTok to other types of media, arguing that the state does not have the power to prevent Montana residents from accessing and making legitimate speech.
“Montana cannot ban its residents from viewing or posting on TikTok just as it cannot ban the Wall Street Journal because of who owns it or because of the ideas it publishes,” five creators of TikTok, including a small swimwear business. rancher and former Marine sergeant.
The lawsuit marks what could be the first challenge to a controversial ban that goes far beyond the restrictions already imposed by Montana and other states.
Other states have banned TikTok from official government devices over concerns about its ties to China through its parent company. Montana’s ban attempts to ban TikTok in the state and block TikTok downloads on personal devices, but does not penalize individuals for using TikTok. The ban currently takes effect in January.
In a statement, a spokesman for Gianforte said, “While the Chinese Communist Party may seek to cover up its heinous espionage and collection of personal, private, confidential information of individuals under the slogan of our First Amendment, the governor has a responsibility to protect the people of Montana. and their right to privacy, guaranteed by the Montana Constitution, from serious threats from the Chinese Communist Party.”
There is no public evidence that the Chinese government actually gained access to TikTok user data in the US. TikTok’s CEO has previously stated that the Chinese government has never asked the company for its data.
Emily Flower, spokeswoman for Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, said in a statement that “we have been anticipating the trial and are fully prepared to defend the law.”
In addition to First Amendment requirements, the lawsuit alleges that Montana’s ban deprives TikTok users of many other rights without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
It also argues that the ban unconstitutionally conflicts with federal authority to set foreign policy and oversee interstate commerce. And he argues that the ban undermines the powers of the federal government under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.