A lawsuit seeking to overturn the first ban against TikTok in the United States has been filed by five content creators in the state of Montana.
The bill was formally signed into law by Montana state Governor Greg Gianforte on Wednesday, May 17th, declaring that it is meant to protect his constituents’ private information from being harvested by Chinese government spies or hackers. However, the law is slated to take effect on January 1, 2024.
Why Are They Going to Court?
In the filing, these Montana-based creators argued that the state law essentially violates the constitutional right to free speech. They added that the state does not have any authority over issues regarding national security.
The plaintiffs include several Montana residents who have used the app for numerous purposes, including promoting their businesses, sharing hobbies, and even community building. Two of the complainants have over 200,000 followers each.
These content creators filed the suit hours after the bill was signed into law declaring that the ban essentially deprives them of their ability to express themselves and reach out to others.
What Does the Law Say?
The new law will ban TikTok downloads within Montana and fines will need to be paid by any entity any time it offers anyone the ability to access and use the said social media network.
The minimum fine has been pegged at $10,000 per day. Penalties, however, will not be imposed on end-users.
But pro-TikTok lobbyists claim that locals can easily go around the ban through the use of virtual private networks that will let them use the service but keep others from monitoring their activities online. Such geofencing technologies are already being used by those who want to use sports gambling apps in states where digital gambling has been banned.
The complainants added that the new law is too broad in terms of its scope as it essentially imposes restrictions through a ban against the use of TikTok in the state. They added that the ban was put in place because of speculative and unsubstantiated reports that Chinese agents could be using the app to spy on users.
But Montana’s Department of Justice says it expected such a backlash and its spokesperson, Emily Flower, says the state government is ready to defend its decision
TikTok US, however, has yet to comment regarding the issue, though there are those who claim that they instigated the lawsuit.