Montana Governor Approves Statewide TikTok Ban — the First of Its Kind in the U.S.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte on Wednesday, cites both security concerns and argues that the platform "directs minors to engage in dangerous activities" in order to generate content

William Campbell/Getty Images Greg Gianforte
William Campbell/Getty Images Greg Gianforte

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte approved a statewide TikTok ban on Wednesday, making Montana the first state to attempt such a broad rejection of the popular social media platform.

After signing the legislation — which passed in both the state House and Senate this spring — Gianforte tweeted, "To protect Montanans' personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana."

The bill is expected to take effect in January 2024 and would bar TikTok from operating within Montana.

Any entity that violates the ban, the bill outlines, would be "liable in the amount of $10,000 for each discrete violation and is liable for an additional $10,000 each day thereafter that the violation continues." Those penalties do not apply to users of TikTok, but to an app store or the app itself.

The legislation cites both security concerns and argues that the platform "directs minors to engage in dangerous activities" in order to generate content, such as "throwing objects at moving automobiles, taking excessive amounts of medication," and "licking doorknobs and toilet seats to place oneself at risk of contracting coronavirus."

Related:Parents Sue TikTok After Daughters Die Doing 'Blackout Challenge': 'We Want People to Be Aware'

The measure further claims that TikTok's continued operation in Montana "serves as a valuable tool to the People's Republic of China to conduct corporate and international espionage in Montana and may allow the People's Republic of China to track the real-time locations of public officials, journalists, and other individuals adverse to the Chinese Communist Party's interests."

The ban in Montana will serve as something of a guinea pig for potential other bans elsewhere, and is expected to be challenged in court.

Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In a statement to CNN, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter signaled that the company would challenge the ban, saying it was an "attempt to censor American voices" and that "the bill's constitutionality will be decided by the courts."

"We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach," Oberwetter added in the statement.

Related:The Biggest Bombshells from the TikTok Ban Hearing

In March, TikTok's chief officer Shou Chew faced nearly five hours of intense grilling from federal lawmakers in a U.S. House hearing centered on the viral video app's ties to its Chinese parent company and its handling of user data.

Chew's testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce came amid rare bipartisan support reflecting the increased efforts on Capitol Hill to ban TikTok in the U.S. to protect from Chinese surveillance and information operations, as well as other national security matters.

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The Trump administration attempted to ban TikTok from Apple's and Google's app stores unless it was sold to an American buyer in 2020, though those efforts were ultimately halted by the courts.

The Biden administration has proposed something similar with an ultimatum that seeks TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app or face a possible ban, which would prevent its approximated 150 million Americans from using it.

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