Washington (SPN) | The legislation was passed in Montana to ban TikTok from all personal devices in the state, hinting at security concerns.
The move is the furthest a state government has gone to restrict the app due to perceived security concerns. This comes as some federal lawmakers also call for a national ban on TikTok.
The legislation prohibits TikTok from operating within the state and prevents app stores from offering TikTok for downloads. The bill outlines potential penalties of $10,000 per violation per day for TikTok and any app store found to have violated the law.
Individual users of TikTok, however, will not be penalized. The bill now awaits Gov. Greg Gianforte’s signature, but it could face significant legal challenges.
NetChoice, one of the members of TikTok says the recent bill of Montana to ban TikTok violates the US constitutional prohibition against “bills of attainder,” or legislation that seeks to punish a person without prior trials.
US officials have expressed fears that the Chinese government could potentially access TikTok user data through its links to TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. They also believe such information could be used for Chinese intelligence or propaganda campaigns.
However, there are no documents supporting that Beijing has accessed the personal information of TikTok’s users from the US or used that data to influence them. However, FBI Director Christopher Wray has told Congress that they are not sure that they would see many of the outward signs of it happening if it was happening.”
TikTok has said it can address national security concerns by erecting a “firewall” around US user data, part of an initiative it calls Project Texas.
Around more than half of US states have clamped down on TikTok in some fashion, and Friday’s House vote in Montana underscored the breadth of support for limiting TikTok on even non-government devices.
The US government wants TikTok to separate from its Chinese owners. TikTok’s critics, however, are not convinced by these proposals.
The legislation has raised concerns from app developers and civil society groups. The App Association, which receives over half its funding from Apple, says the new bill could encourage governments to legislate on an app-by-app basis, creating a patchwork of laws that would create hassles for small app companies.
However, some organizations that support the rights of citizens have claimed that the proposed law in Montana to ban TikTok goes against people’s freedom of speech and their right to access information.
A joint letter to state lawmakers led by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that there is a high constitutional bar for government restrictions on speech.