TikTok, the popular social media platform, has taken legal action against the state of Montana by filing a lawsuit on Monday in the U.S. District Court of Montana. The move comes in response to Montana’s recent ban on the platform, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. The lawsuit specifically targets Montana’s Attorney General Austin Knudsen.
Montana’s governor signed the bill into law last week, merely one month after it passed through the state legislature. The ban faced immediate resistance, with a group of creators swiftly filing a lawsuit against the state, claiming that the law is unconstitutional. TikTok has now directly sued the state, echoing similar claims and asserting in the lawsuit that Montana’s law violates the First Amendment. The lawsuit states, “Montana’s ban abridges freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment, violates the U.S. Constitution in multiple other respects, and is preempted by federal law.”
Under the enacted law, TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, is prohibited from operating within the state of Montana. Additionally, the law prevents Apple’s and Google’s app stores from listing the TikTok app for download. While the specifics of how Montana intends to enforce the ban remain unclear, the law stipulates that violations will result in fines amounting to $10,000 per day. However, it is important to note that individual TikTok users themselves will not face charges for using the platform.
The legal battle between TikTok and Montana represents an important clash over the boundaries of free speech and the authority of states to regulate social media platforms. TikTok’s lawsuit argues that the ban infringes upon the fundamental rights protected by the First Amendment, and asserts that federal law preempts state-level restrictions.
As the case unfolds, it will be closely watched to determine the potential implications for the regulation of social media platforms and the extent to which states can curtail their operations. The outcome of this lawsuit could have broader implications for the relationship between technology companies, states, and the protection of free expression in the digital age.