Montana becomes first US state to issue full TikTok ban

The governor claims is being used to spy on US citizens and is pushing to ban other social media platforms tied to ‘foreign adversaries'.

A bill to ban TikTok entirely in the US state of Montana has been approved by the state's governor, presenting a significant new challenge for the video platform.

Governor Greg Gianforte said he the signed the bill to protect “personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party”. He claims China's government uses the app to spy on the US.

This echoes global concerns about TikTok's connection to Beijing-based company Bytedance and fears around data privacy.

However, most of these concerns have been around protecting government devices and sensitive information from the social media app. The Montana bill will ban the use of TikTok for everyone in the state.

The bill is now set to come into effect at the start of 2024, though it is very likely that TikTok will try to oppose this legislation in court.

The bill prohibits mobile app stores from offering TikTok within the US state, with daily fines of $10,000 for entities that allow a “discrete violation” to take place.

“Entities” in the bill refer to mobile app stores and TikTok, while a discrete violation is listed as each time a user accesses, is offered the ability to access, or is offered the ability to download TikTok.

The wording of the bill means individual users in Montana will not be at risk of receiving fines, though it implies app stores and TikTok could face significant penalties if people are able to access the video app.

However, Gianforte's issues with social media surveillance extend beyond TikTok, as the governor also plans to ban other social media platforms that are tied to “foreign adversaries”. Some of the other apps targeted by the governor include Telegram, WeChat and Temu.

Another challenge for TikTok

TikTok has been facing scrutiny worldwide due to security and privacy concerns. All members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, which includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US, have banned the popular social media app on government devices.

Similar moves have been taken by the European Commission and France, while the Irish Government was advised to not have the app on work devices last month.

US lawmakers have also threatened to issue a full ban on TikTok unless ByteDance sells its shares in the US version of the app.

A TikTok spokesperson told SiliconRepublic.com in March that a change in ownership isn't a security solution as it “would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access”.

The social media giant is currently working on two initiatives, Project Texas and Project Clover, in a bid to ease concerns in the US and EU about TikTok's data security practices.

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