Federal Judge Blocks Montana’s TikTok Ban

The ban on the popular video sharing app oversteps the state’s authority, raises First Amendment concerns

TikTok
TikTok (Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A federal judge blocked Montana’s first-in-the-nation state ban on TikTok on the grounds that it violates the free speech rights of the short video sharing app’s users.

The preliminary injunction that blocks the ban on the Chinese-owned app was issued by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, Reuters reported. In his ruling, Molloy said the state ban “violates the Constitution in more ways than one” and “oversteps state power.”

TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, sued Montana in May in an effort to block block the ban, arguing on First Amendment grounds. That suit followed one brought several days earlier by TikTok users, which argued that the state government was attempting to use powers that the Constitution gives to the federal government, and that the ban violated the First Amendment.

The legislation was passed over concerns about the personal data of Montana users and potential Chinese spying, Reuters noted. TikTok claims it does not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government.

TikTok issued a statement praising the ruling, but a spokesperson for Montana state attorney general Austin Knudsen’s office, which defended the ban, told Reuters that ruling was preliminary and said “the analysis could change as the case proceeds.”

Among Molloy’s findings was that Montana was exercising foreign policy authority held by the feds.

The app is separately banned on Montana government devices, and on federal government devices. The U.S. government has considered a ban, and attempted to order ByteDance to sell the app.

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