On May 17th, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law a bill that technically makes it illegal for TikTok to operate in the state. The bill is however clearly illegal.
The law prohibits app stores from allowing Montana residents to download or install TikTok on any device. That means app stores owned by Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and others would have to block TikTok if they have reason to believe the app is being downloaded or used by someone in Montana.
In my assessment this TikTok ban is truly baseless. I’ve written before that fears over data collection by the Chinese Communist Party all apply equally to Fakebook and dozens of data brokers in the U.S. No specific fear of TikTok can be justified as a greater risk, than every other household name social network.
NetChoice, a trade association of technology and internet-based businesses argues that the law is a “bill of attainder,” (an act of a legislature declaring someone guilty of a crime, and punishing them without a trial). NetChoice, and what appears to be the vast majority of all first amendment lawyers say the law is a first amendment violation.
“Montanans are indisputably exercising their First Amendment rights when they post and consume content on TikTok. Because Montana can’t establish that the ban is necessary or tailored to any legitimate interest, the law is almost certain to be struck down as unconstitutional.”