Montana first US State to Ban TikTok, nationwide ban questionable

While Capitol Hill is failing in an attempt to ban TikTok, Montana becomes the first US state to ban the social platform from app stores.

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After last month’s Congressional hearing of TikTok’s CEO, the Biden administration has been trying to ban the social platform in the United States. Concerns have escalated about TikTok being the Chinese government’s backdoor into the US, a tool for manipulating American citizens and gathering their personal data.

Focusing more locally, Montana has become the first state in the US to ban TikTok. Governor Greg Gianforte signed the law stating that TikTok poses a security threat of surveillance and encouragement of dangerous activities. The law primarily applies to companies, prohibiting app stores from offering TikTok and not to individual users who already use the app and may continue to do so. Some industry leaders have critiqued the new law, saying it sets a dangerous precedent for the government to ban businesses without clear evidence of wrongdoing.

Attempts to ban TikTok are not new, as the Trump administration attempted a forceful sale to Microsoft in an effort to ban it back in 2020. However, it has now become clear that even the politically unified Washington does not have a clear way of banning TikTok. Attempts to force selling it to an American enterprise have been futile. No precedent exists where a communication tool has been banned before without clear evidence of a national threat. Even if a new law gets passed, the legal battle of banning TikTok will hit a stalemate regarding the First Amendment. A nationwide ban seems impossible also due to the political backlash of more than 150 million users in the country.