TikTok Sues Montana Over State Ban

FILE PHOTO: TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
May 22, 2023

WASHINGTON (Reuters)—TikTok Inc on Monday filed a lawsuit challenging the state of Montana's new ban on use of the Chinese-owned short-video app.

ByteDance-owned TikTok argues the ban, which would take effect on Jan. 1, violates First Amendment rights of the company and users. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Montana, also argues the ban is pre-empted by federal law because it intrudes upon matters of exclusive federal concern and violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which limits the authority of States to enact legislation that unduly burdens interstate and foreign commerce.

Montana is the first U.S. state to attempt to ban TikTok. Former President Donald Trump in 2020 sought to bar new downloads of TikTok and Chinese-owned WeChat and other transactions, which the companies said would have effectively barred use of the apps, but a series of court decisions blocked the bans from taking effect.

The company also argues the state "banishes TikTok, and just TikTok, from the State for purely punitive reasons, as evidenced by the State’s decision to single out Plaintiff for harsh penalties based on speculative concerns about TikTok’s data security and content moderation practices."

Last week, five TikTok users in Montana who create content posted on the short-video app filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to block the state's ban.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte on Wednesday signed legislation to ban TikTok in the state. The law makes it unlawful for TikTok to operate in the state and for the app stores of Alphabet Inc's Google and Apple Inc to offer TikTok within Montana.

TikTok's lawsuit names Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who is charged with enforcing the law. Knudsen's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

(Reporting by Jasper Ward and David Shepardson in WashingtonWriting by Paul GrantEditing by Eric Beech and Matthew Lewis)

Published under: China , Montana , TikTok