BEIJING, May 18 (TiPost) -- Montana became the first U.S. state to ban TikTok completely on Wednesday after Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill into law prohibiting downloads of TikTok across the state and making it illegal for mobile app stores to offer the app within the state.
The new law, taking effect from January 1, 2024, will fine the app store or Tiktok $10,000 per day for each time a person in Montana is provided the access to the social media platform or download the app. But the penalties would not apply to users.
The law alleges that China is an "adversary" to the U.S. and Montana as it collects information about the intellectual property of Montanans, Montana companies and users. Also, TikTok fails to remove, and may even promote content that instructs minors to engage in dangerous activities, and its adventure challenges threaten the safety and health of Montanans.
TikTok responded by noting that the bill signed by Gianforte infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state. "We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, make a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana," said Tiktok in a statement.
Gianforte also issued an executive order on the same day, requiring to prohibit the use of all social media applications that provide personal information or data to foreign adversaries on government-issued devices and networks. Among the apps he listed are ByteDance's CapCut, Lemon8 and TikTok, Russia's Telegram Messenger, Pinduoduo's Temu, and Tencent's WeChat. Montana banned TikTok on government-owned devices in late December.
According to the U.S. media, 34 of the 50 U.S. states have prohibited TikTok on government devices and networks, while Montana is the first state to introduce a state-wide full ban on TikTok. At the request of the U.S. Congress, the federal agencies were ordered to remove TikTok from all their devices on Feb. 27.
Some state universities in U.S. have also blocked the use of TikTok.
Universities across the state of Florida were prohibited from using campus Wi-Fi or school-owned devices to access Chinese apps like TikTok, WeChat and QQ. These bans were issued at the beginning of April.
Since the Trump Administration, the U.S. government has cracked down on TikTok over national security concerns. On Nov. 1, 2019, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) announced an investigation into ByteDance's acquisition of music video software musical.ly. Trump issued two presidential executive orders in August 2020, demanding not only that TikTok be banned in the U.S., but also that ByteDance spin off TikTok’s U.S. assets.
U.S. President Biden revoked the executive order that sought to ban TikTok in June 2021. However, the U.S. was still concerned about whether TikTok will leak U.S. user data to China. In response, TikTok has launched the "Texas Project," which proposes to store data locally in the U.S. and localize its operations.
On March 23, TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew attended a bipartisan congressional hearing and committed that the youth safety would be a top priority，U.S. user data would be protected from foreign access through firewalls and TikTok would not be manipulated by any government.