Republican Governor Greg Gianforte~, On Wednesday, signed a law that is more comprehensive than any other state’s attempts to restrict the social media app, which is owned by a Chinese tech corporation, making Montana the first state in the United States to completely prohibit TikTok. It is anticipated that the law, which is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, will be legally challenged. It will also act as a trial run for the TikTok-free America that many national lawmakers have envisioned. According to cybersecurity experts, it might be challenging to enforce the restriction.
Gianforte released a statement in which he said, “Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ sensitive personal information and private data from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.” According to Brooke Oberwetter, a spokesperson for TikTok, the regulation is illegal and violates people’s First Amendment rights. She chose not to indicate whether the business will bring a lawsuit.
As we continue to battle to defend the rights of our users both inside and outside of Montana, we want to reassure Montanans that they may still use TikTok to express themselves, make a job, and discover community. The rule was also deemed unlawful by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana and Net Choice, a business association that includes Google and TikTok among its members. According to Keegan Medrano, policy director for the ACLU of Montana, the Legislature “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.”
The FBI, several senators, and representatives from other agencies are worried that Byte Dance’s video-sharing app may be used to provide the Chinese government access to data on American individuals or to disseminate propaganda in favor of Beijing that could sway public opinion. According to TikTok, none of this has ever occurred. TikTok has been adamant that it is free of any meddling from the Chinese government and rejects both options. Additionally, it is promoting a data security plan called “Project Texas” to allay partisan worries in Washington.
At the same time, several senators have come out in support, claiming that all social media sites, not just one, should be included in efforts to limit data collecting techniques. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican, opposed a bill in March that would have outlawed TikTok on a nationwide level, arguing that doing so would be unconstitutional and infuriate the millions of voters who use the app.
The TikTok prohibition in Montana also coincides with a growing campaign to restrict and, in some cases, outright outlaw children’s and teenagers’ usage of social media. A number of legislation that are currently being discussed in Congress seek to address the problem, including one that would forbid the use of social media by anyone under the age of 13 and mandate parental consent before anyone under the age of 18 could register an account. Some states, like Utah and Arkansas, have already passed legislation requiring parental permission before using social media. Other states are drafting legislation of a similar nature. California passed a law mandating businesses to strengthen their child data protection policies and provide them with the highest privacy settings last year.
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