Chinese-owned app asks US judge to block enforcement of Montana’s state ban on TikTok, before 1 January deadline
TikTok continues its fight against its ban in the rural US state of Montana, which seeks to stop its residents from downloading the Chinese-owned app.
Montana in May became the first US state to pass a ban on TikTok that prevents app stores from distributing the app in the state, starting on 1 January, 2024.
It came after 34 out of 50 US states, along with the US federal government, have already banned TikTok from government devices over concerns data collected by the app could be accessed by Chinese authorities. Some lawmakers are seeking a nationwide ban.
Shortly after the Montana ban, TikTok (owned by Beijing-based ByteDance), filed a lawsuit against Montana.
Montana is also being sued in federal court by five Montana TikTok users, who are seeking to block the ban.
Now Reuters reported that on Wednesday, TikTok asked a US judge to block enforcement of the Montana state ban before it takes effect on 1 January 2024.
TikTok reportedly asked US District Judge Donald W. Molloy to issue a preliminary injunction to block the first-of-its-kind US state ban on several grounds, arguing it violates the First Amendment free speech rights of the company and users.
TikTok Global Business Solutions President Blake Chandlee was quoted by Reuters as saying in a court filing the Montana ban “will cause significant and irreversible harms to our business and our brand” and would harm “relationships with advertisers and business partners across the country and around the world.”
TikTok also reportedly argued the ban is pre-empted by federal law because it intrudes upon matters of exclusive federal concern and violates the US Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which limits state authority to enact legislation that unduly burdens interstate and foreign commerce.
Chandlee reportedly added that if the ban takes effect “we expect that additional advertisers and business partners will pull back from working with TikTok Inc (which is the entity that receives income from US advertisers, including in Montana).”
Montana could impose fines of $10,000 for each violation by TikTok, Reuters reported.
The law does not impose penalties on individual TikTok users.
TikTok estimates 380,000 people in Montana use TikTok, or more than a third of the state’s 1.1 million people.
TikTok has always denied it would allow Chinese intelligence agencies to access the data of US citizens.