US: Judge Blocks Montana State From Banning TikTok

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A US judge temporarily halted Montana’s groundbreaking statewide TikTok ban, which was set to go into effect at the start of 2024, saying it violated the free speech rights of users.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy issued a preliminary injunction to block the ban on the Chinese-owned app, saying the State ban “violates the Constitution in more ways than one” and “oversteps State power.”

TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, sued Montana in May, seeking to block the U.S. state ban on several grounds, arguing that it violates the First Amendment free speech rights of the company and users.

TikTok users in Montana also filed suit to block the ban approved by the state legislature which cited concerns about the personal data of Montana users and potential Chinese spying.

TikTok said it was pleased the judge “rejected this unconstitutional law and hundreds of thousands of Montanans can continue to express themselves, earn a living, and find community on TikTok.”

A Spokesperson for Montana State Attorney General Austin Knudsen’s Office, which defended the ban, noted the ruling was preliminary and said “the analysis could change as the case proceeds.”

Knudsen’s Office added it was considering its next steps and looks “forward to presenting the complete legal argument to defend the law that protects Montanans from the Chinese Communist Party obtaining and using their data.”

TikTok said in earlier court filings it “has not shared, and would not share, U.S. user data with the Chinese Government, and has taken substantial measures to protect the privacy and security of TikTok users.”