Federal Judge blocks Montana’s TikTok Ban, Would be the First of its Kind

CITATION: Image Used for information purpose only. Picture Credit: 230316215418-01-tiktok-offices-031623-file.jpg (1280×720) (cnn.com)

A federal judge in Montana has halted a state law that would have imposed a statewide ban on TikTok starting on January 1, 2024. Judge Donald Molloy issued a preliminary ruling, stating that Montana failed to demonstrate the original SB 419 bill’s constitutionality. The ruling is a setback for Montana, with Governor Greg Gianforte signing the bill in May, emphasizing its role in protecting residents from Chinese Communist Party surveillance.

However, Judge Molloy noted that the legislation primarily targeted China’s alleged involvement in TikTok rather than consumer protection. TikTok welcomed the decision, asserting that hundreds of thousands of Montanans can continue using the platform. The Montana Attorney General’s office considered the ruling a preliminary matter, anticipating the opportunity to present a complete legal argument in defense of the law.

Before the ruling, Montana was poised to become the first U.S. state to ban TikTok, prompting a legal challenge from ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company. ByteDance sued Montana in May to prevent the state from unlawfully banning TikTok, emphasizing that Montana failed to substantiate claims about Chinese government access to user data.

U.S. lawmakers have previously raised concerns about the Chinese Communist Party potentially accessing U.S. citizen data through TikTok, leading to discussions about a nationwide ban. TikTok has sought to address these concerns by highlighting initiatives like “Project Texas,” aiming to keep U.S. citizen data within the country with the support of Oracle.

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