Montana became the first US state to outlaw TikTok on Wednesday, with the law due to take effect next year as debate about the app’s effects and security heats up.
The prohibition, which Governor Greg Gianforte signed into law, will serve as a legal test for a national ban on the Chinese-owned platform, which politicians in Washington are increasingly pushing for.
“TikTok may not operate within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana,” according to a copy of the newly enacted legislation available on the state website.
It is a violation of the ban if “a user accesses TikTok, is offered the ability to access TikTok, or is offered the ability to download TikTok.”
Every infringement is penalized by a $10,000 fine per day it occurs.
According to the law, Apple and Google must remove TikTok from their app stores, and corporations may face daily fines.
Lawsuits are almost probably going to be filed in response to the change.
State lawmakers 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 businesses in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment,” according to Keegan Medrano, policy director of the ACLU of Montana.
The prohibition will go into force in 2024, but will be null and void if TikTok is acquired by a corporation incorporated in a country not listed by the US as a foreign opponent, according to the law.
“Governor Gianforte has signed a bill that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok,” a spokeswoman for the company told AFP.
“We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.”
TikTok has stated that the ban’s constitutionality will be decided by the courts in the end.
The rule is the latest in a series of clashes between TikTok and numerous Western governments, with the app already prohibited on government devices in the United States, Canada, and several European countries.
The app is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, and it has been accused by a wide range of US politicians of being under the control of the Chinese government and used for spying by Beijing, something the company vehemently denies.