Patcay.com – The previously enacted ban on TikTok within the borders of Montana, which came into effect earlier this year, is currently in a state of suspension. On Thursday, a federal judge in the U.S. state temporarily halted the enforcement of the ban, asserting that it was unconstitutional and an encroachment on state authority.
Specifically, the court decreed that the ban likely transgressed the First Amendment and a provision granting Congress the authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations.
Governor Greg Gianforte of Montana initially signed into law the most stringent restriction on the social video app in the U.S. in May of this year, stating that the legislation aimed to safeguard the personal and private data of Montanans from the Chinese Communist Party. Although TikTok is operated by ByteDance, based in Beijing, its U.S. user data is currently stored on Oracle servers in the United States.
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Shortly after the law was enacted, TikTok filed a lawsuit against Montana, contending that the law violated the Constitution and that the state was overstepping its bounds by legislating matters of national security. TikTok sought an injunction on the ban while the case was being argued in court. Additionally, five TikTok creators individually sued Montana, arguing that the ban infringed upon their First Amendment rights.
After considering arguments from both parties, the judge sided with TikTok and temporarily prevented the ban from being enforced.
In the court’s accompanying opinion issued alongside the injunction, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy stated that despite Montana presenting the law as focused on consumer protection, there was “little doubt that Montana’s legislature and Attorney General were more interested in targeting China’s ostensible role in TikTok than with protecting Montana consumers.”
Furthermore, the judge remarked that the ban “likely violates the First Amendment” as it targets speech. The judge noted that not only would TikTok potentially suffer “irreparable harm” from the ban, but creators would also be adversely affected.
He wrote, “In shutting off TikTok, the Legislature has both harmed User Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights and cut off a stream of income on which many rely. Thus, Plaintiffs have established a likelihood of irreparable harm.”
A similar argument about creator income streams was employed to block the Trump administration’s TikTok ban in 2020 after creators filed a lawsuit, asserting they would lose access to their followers and income.
If the Montana TikTok ban had been enforced on January 1, 2024, it would have imposed a $10,000 fine on either TikTok or the app stores each time a user accessed TikTok or was offered the ability to download it. An additional $10,000 fine would be added for each day the violation continued. The ban will remain on hold until a final determination on the merits of TikTok’s claims is made in court.
“We are pleased the judge rejected this unconstitutional law, and hundreds of thousands of Montanans can continue to express themselves, earn a living, and find community on TikTok,” said a TikTok spokesperson in a statement about the injunction.