The video-sharing app, Tiktok, has sued the state of Montana over a new law that prohibits the use of the service in the state.
Montana became the first state in the US to ban the app after the bill was signed to law by Republican Governor, Greg Gianforte, on Wednesday. The law is set to take effect in January 2024.
“We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana,” the social media company said in the court filing.
The complaint claims that the ban “abridges freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment”, as well as other constitutional protections.
While numerous US states and federal agencies have limited or banned access to TikTok on government devices — based on claims that data from the platform could be used by the Chinese government for surveillance — the Montana law goes further and bans the app from the state entirely.
Slated to take effect on January 1, the ban would bar TikTok from operating within Montana and prohibit app stores from offering TikTok for download, with violators facing fines.
TikTok has countered that such privacy concerns are overblown and that it has never been asked to hand over user data to the Chinese government. Others have pointed out that the US itself enlists tech companies with global reach to conduct surveillance.
Rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have also questioned the ban’s constitutionality and pressed for evidence that the app is a national security threat.
“With this ban, Governor [Greg] 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,” Keegan Medrano, policy director of the ACLU’s Montana branch, said in a statement on Wednesday. (AlJazeera)