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TikTok sues Montana over controversial state ban

On Monday, TikTok sued Montana over a new law that would ban the app statewide next year.

The lawsuit comes less than a week after Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed SB 419, the first state bill to ban the popular video app. The law, which goes into effect in January 2024, would ban TikTok from operating “within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana” and oblige mobile app stores to make the app unavailable for download within the state.

“We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana,” TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter said in a statement Monday. “We are confident that our legal challenge will prevail on the basis of an extremely strong set of precedents and facts.”

TikTok’s lawsuit has drawn much criticism from civil liberties groups such as the ACLU since the bill was first passed by the Montana state legislature in April. The suit claims the ban is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment. TikTok also argues that it is illegal for states to enforce these restrictions, claiming that the federal government has the sole authority to remove threats to national security.

TikTok’s Monday suit is the second to challenge the Montana ban. Last Thursday, a group of TikTok creators filed their lawsuit, calling it unconstitutional and violating their free speech rights.

While Montana’s ban is the first state ban to be approved, TikTok has previously challenged other federal efforts to ban its app nationwide. US federal judges have blocked efforts to ban WeChat and other Chinese apps stemming from executive orders signed by former President Donald Trump.

Last Thursday, Eric Ebenstein, TikTok’s vice president of public policy, told CNN that the national security complaints raised by Montana, state lawmakers and federal policymakers were unwarranted.

“National security concerns are within the purview of the federal government,” Ebenstein said Thursday. “This is not based on the ruling for Montana or any other state. We think there is probably a reason no other state currently has a similar bill. This is an outlier.

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