TikTok on Monday filed a lawsuit challenging the state of Montana's new ban on the use of the Chinese-owned app, the first state to bar the popular short-video sharing service.
TikTok argues the ban, which would take effect on January 1, violates the First Amendment rights of the company and users. The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Montana, also argues the ban is pre-empted by federal law because it intrudes upon matters of exclusive federal concern and violates the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, which limits the authority of States to enact legislation that unduly burdens interstate and foreign commerce.
TikTok, which is owned by China's ByteDance and used by more than 150 million Americans, has faced growing calls from US lawmakers and state officials to ban the app nationwide over concerns about potential Chinese government influence over the platform.
Montana could impose fines of $10,000 (roughly Rs. 8,28,293) for each violation by TikTok and additional fines of $10,000 (roughly Rs. 8,28,293) per day if it violates the ban. The law does not impose penalties on individual TikTok users. It is not clear how Montana would enforce a TikTok ban.
Former President Donald Trump in 2020 sought to bar new downloads of TikTok and Chinese-owned WeChat, a unit of Tencent, and related transactions, which the companies said at the time could have effectively barred US use of the apps, but a series of court decisions blocked the bans from taking effect.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner said the likelihood of federal courts overturning Montana's ban made it even more essential for Congress to pass the legislation he introduced to give the president new powers to ban or impose restrictions on TikTok and other foreign-owned apps.
TikTok estimates it has hundreds of thousands of active users in the state, which has a total of about 1.1 million residents.
The company says in its lawsuit that it "has not shared, and would not share, US user data with the Chinese government, and has taken substantial measures to protect the privacy and security of TikTok users."
Last week, five TikTok users in Montana filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to block the state's ban.
TikTok's lawsuit names Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who is charged with enforcing the law. Knudsen's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Emily Flower, a spokesperson for Knudsen, said the state was ready for lawsuits. "We expected legal challenges and are fully prepared to defend the law that helps protect Montanans' privacy and security," she said Monday.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G was recently launched by the company in India alongside the more expensive Galaxy A54 5G smartphone. How does this phone fare against the Nothing Phone 1 and the iQoo Neo 7? We discuss this and more on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts. Affiliate links may be automatically generated - see our ethics statement for details.