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Montana now the first state to ban TikTok 

The bill will further "our shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance," said Gov. Gianforte.

TikTok | Shutterstock

May 18, 2023 11:47pm

Updated: May 18, 2023 11:47pm

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte on Wednesday signed a bill completely banning the social media platform TikTok in the state over fears that the application is gathering information by China. 

“Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party,” Gianforte, a Republican, said in a news release.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2024, the regulation will make it against the law for the Apple and Google Play stores to offer TikTok within the state. Both TikTok and the mobile app stores could face fines if they violate the law. Individual users, however, will not face penalties if they use the app. 

The bill will further "our shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance," said Gianforte.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company Byte Dance, responded to the ban saying that the law "infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok," adding that it will "continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana."

Despite having more than 150 million users in the United States, TikTok is facing concerns from American lawmakers who claim the app is gathering information that could potentially be shared with the Chinese Communist Party and be used to influence users. 

In March, the White House backed a bipartisan Senate bill introduced that seeks to give the administration the power to restrict and ban the Chinese-owned social media application TikTok.

The RESTRICT Act would give the Commerce Department the ability to restrict, and even ban, TikTok and other technologies if they are considered to pose national security risks.

TikTok has denied allegations that its data can be shared with the Chinese government. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew spoke before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in his first appearance before Congress, claiming that the social media company would never spy on Americans.