Skip to main content

Montana on track to completely ban the use of TikTok

Montana is on track to become the first state to completely ban the use of TikTok. The Montana House of Representatives passed a bill, SB419, on Friday with a vote o 54-43. The bill moved to Governor Greg Gianforte’s desk. If Gianforte signs the bill, it goes into effect in January. The legislation will face significant legal challenges.

The banning of TikTok has become a hot topic and has garnered bipartisan support in Congress. This is the farthest step taken so far by a state. So far, 33 out of 50 states have placed bans on the TikTok app on state devices, and state employees are forbidden from using them for official use. Employees of the federal government and contractors are banned from using the app on government-issued devices.

Montana is one of those states. Therefore, it is easy to think that the governor, a Republican, will sign the legislation. The concern is about Chinese spying via social media apps.

The legislation specifically names TikTok as a target of the bill, and outlines potential penalties of $10,000 per violation per day. The penalties would also apply to any app store found to have violated the law. Individual users of TikTok, meanwhile, would not be penalized for accessing TikTok.

“The governor will carefully consider any bill the legislature sends to his desk,” said Brooke Stroyke, a spokesperson for Gianforte. In December, Gianforte banned TikTok from state government devices and the following month urged the Montana University System to follow suit, which it did.

Predictably, TikTok is foreshadowing potential legal challenges. The app is wildly popular with teens and young adults. None of the restrictions passed in individual states negate an individual’s ability to use TikTok on personal devices. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is a Chinese internet technology company. It shares intelligence with the Chinese government. There is no public evidence that the Chinese government has accessed the personal information of TikTok’s U.S. users or data to influence them. However, FBI Directory Christopher Wray told Congress “We’re not sure that we would see many of the outward signs of it happening if it was happening.” Thus, the concern. It does not take any imagination to believe that China would jump at the chance to spy on the United States with the help of a social media app used by millions of young people.

The U.S. government called for TikTok to be separated from its Chinese owners. TikTok counters by saying that it can address national security concerns with a firewall around U.S. user data. It calls that project, Project Texas.

One tech industry group that counts TikTok as a member, NetChoice, said Friday that the bill violates the constitutional prohibition against so-called “bills of attainder.” That is legislation that seeks to punish a person without a trial.

“This move from the Montana legislature sets a dangerous precedent that the government can try to ban any business it doesn’t like without clear evidence of wrongdoing,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s vice president and general counsel. “The US Constitution clearly forbids lawmakers from passing laws to criminalize a specific individual or business. Gov. Greg Gianforte should veto this clearly unconstitutional law.”

Design it For Us, a coalition of youth activists pushing for changes to platform regulation, lamented that the perspectives of internet natives were not reflected in the bill.

“We believe that social media can be good for young people if they are designed for us,” said Zamaan Qureshi and Emma Lembke, the group’s co-chairs. “Bans like this one forgo a real opportunity to proactively address kids’ safety and privacy concerns on these platforms.”

A coalition of youth activists pushes for changes in platform regulations, not the ban of the app. And one group of app developers (heavily funded by Apple) ask where it ends? They call it censorship and note that it won’t stop with TikTok, other apps will likely be next.

A First Amendment scholar notes it takes exceptional circumstances for constitutionally permitted restrictions.

The legislation also references the presence on TikTok of “dangerous content” and “dangerous challenges,” language that Lynn Greenky, a First Amendment scholar and associate professor at Syracuse University, said raises an instant “red flag” triggering stricter constitutional scrutiny.

“Only in exceptional circumstances will content-based restrictions be constitutionally permissible under the First Amendment,” Greenky said. “Certainly, the Montana government has a compelling state interest in protecting the health, welfare, and privacy of its citizens, but the statute is so vague that it is virtually unenforceable. A vague statute is, by definition, not narrowly tailored, and as such it will wither under First Amendment scrutiny.”

TikTok claims it has the plan to protect U.S. user data. In the meantime, expect more states to try to ban the app and the legal challenges that follow.


Popular posts from this blog

Biden's connections to Chinese money under scrutiny

President Joe Biden is under investigation for holding on to classified documents from his time in the Obama administration, but now lawmakers have a new question: did Chinese money influence Biden’s policies? The question arose when news broke that some of the classified documents were reportedly found in a closet at the Penn Biden Center, which House Oversight lawmakers say has taken millions of dollars from “anonymous Chinese sources.” “The Penn Biden Center appears to have acted as a foreign-sponsored source of income for much of a Biden Administration in-waiting,” House Oversight Chair Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said in a letter to Mary Magill, the group’s president. “Between 2017 and 2019, UPenn paid President Biden more than $900,000, and the university employed at least 10 people at the Penn Biden Center who later became senior Biden administration officials. This level of access and opportunity raises questions about who had access to the classified documents found at the Penn

Randall County gives update on area flooding and road closures

According to the National Weather Service, rain is likely for the Central and East Texas Panhandle this afternoon, and will affect Randall County and the City of Canyon. The severe storm threat will be from 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm today, which will bring flash flooding, golf ball size hail, and strong winds. Because rivers are high and soil is saturated, there is an elevated chance of flooding due to these storms. The flood watch is expected to last from 1:00 pm today until 7:00 am Saturday morning. Randall County and City of Canyon officials, including leadership from the Villages of Lake Tanglewood, Timbercreek Canyon, and Palisades, are currently working to remove debris near dams and waterways in an effort to keep spillways working as designed, mitigate damage to these structures, and keep floodwaters from pooling in areas where property damage or hazardous conditions could result.  Due to a large amount of debris, high water levels, and swift-running water, all lakes will remain clo

Texas House adjourns special session after passing property tax, border legislation

The first special session of the 88th Texas Legislature lasted one day for the House as it adjourned sine die after expediting filing and passage of its property tax and border-related bill. Gov. Greg Abbott called a special session immediately after the regular session ended Monday evening without a property tax bill having passed. He placed two items on the call: provide property tax relief solely through compression of school district Maintenance & Operations rates, and pass an criminal penalty increase for human smuggling and operating a stash house. Both chambers expedited their priority bills on the two issues, passing them to their opposite chamber. But whereas the Senate adjourned until Friday after passing its pair, the House adjourned sine die, ending its first special session this year after one day. “When Governor Abbott declared a special session yesterday evening, we had every intention of gaveling in this morning, fulfilling the Governor’s call, and gaveling out,” S

APD investigating Sunday morning shooting

Early Sunday morning, Amarillo police officers responded to a shooting the 3100 block of Westhaven Drive. When officers arrived, they found one person had been shot with a shotgun. The victim was taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. APD violent crime detectives and patrol officers obtained statements from witnesses on the scene and this incident. No arrests have been made and this shooting is still under investigation.

Guess what? People want affordable energy

So how is Joe Biden’s war on conventional energy and “things that work” shaping up so far? If you ask the people in the administration and the various climate alarmists around the country, things are going swimmingly.  Bans on gas-powered vehicles are being enacted in multiple states and issuance of drilling permits for oil and gas remain locked up in bureaucratic red tape. Wind farms and solar arrays funded by massive and unsustainable subsidies that burden taxpayers continue to be erected.  But how is this all sitting with the public in general?  According to the most recent polling presented by the American Energy Alliance, not very well at all: The American Energy Alliance and the Committee to Unleash Prosperity recently completed a nationwide survey of 1000 likely voters (3.1% margin of error) executed in the first two weeks of May.  A full slide deck of the results can be found here. As Mike McKenna of MWR Strategies notes, there are a few salient points worth noting. “First, and