A group of TikTok users filed a lawsuit against Montana seeking to overturn the state’s ban of the video app — which was the first-of-its-kind in the nation.
On Wednesday, Montana officially became the first state to completely ban Chinese-owned video app TikTok in the U.S.
However, hours after Montana’s total ban was signed into law, five TikTok content creators sued the state — arguing the bill is an unconstitutional violation of free speech rights.
In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, five TikTok users alleged that the legislation violated their First Amendment rights and claimed that the ban, which Republican Governor Greg Gianforte signed on Wednesday, far outstripped Montana’s legal authority as a state.
Governor Gianforte banned TikTok from operating in the state to protect residents’ private data and personal information from alleged intelligence gathering by the Chinese government.
However, the plaintiffs argued that Montana lacks authority over matters of national security. They also stated that the state has no authority to stop Montanans from accessing and creating lawful speech.
“Montana has no authority to enact laws advancing what it believes should be the United States’ foreign policy or its national security interests, nor may Montana ban an entire forum for communication based on its perceptions that some speech shared through that forum, though protected by the First Amendment, is dangerous,” the lawsuit contends.
“Montana can no more ban its residents from viewing or posting to TikTok than it could ban the Wall Street Journal because of who owns it or the ideas it publishes.”
TikTok has also argued the law infringes on people’s First Amendment rights. However, according to AP, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday. She also declined to say whether the company helped coordinate the complaint.
The ban is set to take effect on January 1, 2023. Montana will make it unlawful for the Google Play store and Apple App store to offer TikTok within the state and will be subjected to fines of up to $10,000 a day for violations. However, the state will not impose any penalties on individuals using the app.
The lawsuit marks the first challenge to Montana’s controversial ban and offers a glimpse into what the U.S. might face nationally if lawmakers attempt a nationwide ban of TikTok — something which has become a real possibility in recent months.
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