Montana’s attorney general has requested a U.S. judge to uphold a unique state-level prohibition on the utilization of the short video-sharing app TikTok, set to become effective on January 1.
TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, initiated legal action in May to challenge the unprecedented U.S. state ban. The lawsuit argued that the ban infringes upon the First Amendment rights of both the company and its users. Concurrently, Montana TikTok users have also filed a separate lawsuit.
Attorney General Austin Knudsen, a member of the Republican Party, stated on Monday that the state’s legislature and governor made the correct decision in prohibiting TikTok’s operations in Montana as long as it remains controlled by a foreign adversary.
In a legal filing, Knudsen argued that Montana has the authority to ban products that pose harm without violating free speech rights. He illustrated this with examples, noting that Montana would still have the power to prohibit a cancer-causing radio that also transmitted protected speech or to ban sports-betting apps that offered informative videos about sports gambling. He emphasized that the targeted harms, such as preventing cancer, illegal gambling, or data collection by a hostile foreign nation, are inherently non-expressive in nature.
A hearing regarding TikTok’s plea for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for October 12.
With over 150 million American users, TikTok has been under increasing pressure from U.S. legislators to consider a nationwide ban due to apprehensions about potential influence from the Chinese government.