TikTok Creators Sue Montana via TikTok Ban – NECN | Pro IQRA News

TikTok Creators Sue Montana via TikTok Ban – NECN

 | Pro IQRA News

Pro IQRA News Updates.

Five TikTok creators have sued to overturn the nation’s first Montana ban on the video-sharing app, arguing that the law is an unconstitutional violation of free speech rights.

Montana residents also argued in a legal complaint, which was filed in federal court late Wednesday without public notice, that the state has no power over matters of national security.

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law on Wednesday and said it would protect Montana residents’ private data and personal information from being harvested by the Chinese government. The ban is set to go into effect on January 1, 2024.

“We expected a legal challenge and are fully prepared to defend the law,” said Emily Flower, a spokeswoman for the Montana Department of Justice.

TikTok has argued that the law violates people’s First Amendment rights.

However, a spokesperson for Brooke Oberwetter declined to comment on the lawsuit on Thursday. It also declined to say whether the company helped coordinate the complaint.

The creators are five Montana residents who use the video-sharing app for things like promoting businesses, connecting with military veterans, introducing others to farm life, sharing outdoor adventures, or expressing their sense of humor. The complaint says that some of them make a lot of money from the app.

The issue could be a testing ground for the TikTok-free America that many national lawmakers have envisioned. Cybersecurity experts say it can be difficult to enforce.

The suit — filed just hours after Gianforte signed the measure into law — states that the ban “immediately and permanently deprives the plaintiffs of their ability to express themselves and communicate with others.”

“No more can Montana ban its residents from viewing or posting on TikTok than it can ban the Wall Street Journal because of who owns it or because of the ideas it publishes,” attorneys for the plaintiffs wrote.

Some lawmakers, the FBI and other agency officials worry that the video-sharing app, owned by ByteDance, could be used to allow the Chinese government access to information about US citizens or push pro-Beijing misinformation that could influence the public. TikTok says none of this ever happened.

A former ByteDance executive alleges that the tech giant has served as a “propaganda tool” for the Chinese government, a claim that ByteDance says is unfounded.

China passed laws in 2014 and 2017 that force companies to cooperate with the country’s government for state intelligence work. TikTok says it has never been asked to turn over its data and would not do so if asked.

“TikTok is spying on Americans. Period,” Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen told a legislative committee in March. “TikTok is a tool of the Chinese Communist Party. It is owned by a Chinese company, and under Chinese law, if you are based in China, you will cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party. Period.”

More than half of US states, including Montana, and the federal government have banned TikTok from government-owned devices.

Montana law bans TikTok downloads in the state and fines any “entity” — an app store or TikTok — $10,000 per day for each time someone is “offered” access to the social media platform or app download. Penalties will not apply to users.

Opponents say Montanaans can easily circumvent the ban by using a virtual private network, a service that protects Internet users by encrypting their data traffic, and preventing others from monitoring their web browsing. Montana officials say geolocation technology is used with online sports gambling apps, which are deactivated in states where online gambling is illegal.