Video-sharing platform TikTok has filed a federal lawsuit over the pending ban of the app in the state of Montana. As we reported last week, the Montana ban is set to come into effect on January 1st, 2024.
TikTok has, unsurprisingly, reacted to the news, and the company has moved forward with a lawsuit designed to challenge and overturn the decision. According to TikTok, the ban is unconstitutional and is in direct violation of the first amendment, which protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
An announcement on the TikTok Comms Twitter account confirmed that the company would be challenging the Montana ban, stating that it is pursuing legal means to both safeguard its business and protect users in the state of Montana.
The company went on to assert that it is confident about the challenge, claiming that its case is based on facts and evidence. This could suggest that TikTok believes the ban is politically or ideologically motivated, rather than being based on anything concrete.
Pressure on TikTok has mounted in recent months, particularly regarding how it collects, stores, and manages user data. The app has already been banned in India, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, while its use has been banned on official devices in the governments of the US, UK, Australia, and most of the EU.
A blanket ban in Western countries seemed unlikely until the news emerged about the Montana ban. The ban is said to be designed to protect people in Montana from covert Chinese data gathering, an activity in which TikTok is widely believed to be complicit.
The popular video-sharing platform has vehemently denied the accusations, building dedicated US data processing centres in an effort to allay the fears of Western governments.
However, it would seem that TikTok’s efforts have been in vain. The Montana ban represents a significant shift in attitude and will be the first Western territory to implement a blanket ban that prohibits both government officials and citizens from using the app.
While citizens found to be using the app after the ban will not be prosecuted, TikTok itself could be faced with fines of $10,000 per day if it is in breach of the new rules. Whether TikTok’s lawsuit is successful or not, the company will likely face increasing pressure and more stringent sanctions as its data handling policies come under further scrutiny.