In a highly anticipated move, TikTok filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Montana. The legal action comes in response to a recent law passed by Montana, which aims to ban TikTok within the state’s borders.
TikTok’s lawsuit asserts that this ban infringes upon the fundamental right to free speech, amounting to unconstitutional censorship.
The lawsuit, which seeks to overturn the Montana law set to take effect in January 2024, contends that the state’s prohibition violates the First Amendment by unlawfully restricting core freedom. TikTok’s lawyers argue that national security and foreign affairs issues fall under federal jurisdiction and are beyond the purview of state-level regulation.
According to TikTok, the concerns expressed by Montana about potential data access by Chinese officials and exposure of harmful content are baseless. The company’s legal team dismisses the Montana law as “an extraordinary and unprecedented measure driven solely by unfounded speculation.”
TikTok, boasting 150 million users in the United States, has launched “Project Texas” in response to perceived concerns about data privacy and Chinese government influence. In collaboration with Oracle, this $1.5 billion data-security initiative aims to store Americans’ data on U.S. servers and ensure oversight by an American team.
“We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana,” TikTok spokesperson said in a statement. “We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts.”
While the Montana law signed by Governor Greg Gianforte has garnered criticism from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and digital rights advocates, cybersecurity experts have also expressed doubts about its feasibility.
The law places the responsibility on companies like Apple and Google by imposing penalties of up to $10,000 per day for allowing TikTok downloads within Montana. Experts argue that enforcing such a prohibition would be challenging and could inadvertently affect residents living near the state’s borders, creating potential loopholes.