U.S. Judge Blocks Montana’s Attempt to Ban TikTok, Citing Free Speech Concerns

Bozeman, Montana – December 2, 2023

U.S. Judge Blocks Montana's Attempt to Ban TikTok, Citing Free Speech Concerns

In a significant legal development, a U.S. judge on Thursday issued a preliminary “injunction,” blocking the enforcement of Montana’s groundbreaking state ban on the widely-used”short-video sharing app TikTok,” which was slated to take effect on January 1, 2024.USA District Judge “Donald Molloy” asserted that the ban infringed upon the free speech rights of users, deeming it an “excessive” exercise of state authority.

The legal dispute emerged when TikTok, owned by China’s “ByteDance,” filed a “lawsuit” against Montana in May, challenging the state ban on various grounds, including the violation of “First Amendment free speech rights” for both the “company” and its “users.” Montana TikTok users also initiated legal actions to prevent the ban, expressing concerns about the “security” of their “personal data” and the potential for “Chinese espionage.”

TikTok expressed satisfaction with the judge’s decision, stating, “We are pleased that the judge rejected this unconstitutional law, ensuring hundreds of thousands of Montanans can continue to express themselves, earn a living, and find community on TikTok.”

However, a spokesperson for “Montana State Attorney General Austin Knudsen’s office,” responsible for defending the ban, emphasized that the “ruling” was preliminary, suggesting that the “legal analysis” might evolve as the “case” progresses. The office is considering its next steps and anticipates presenting a “comprehensive legal argument” to uphold the law, aimed at safeguarding Montanans from potential “misuse” of their data by the “Chinese Communist Party.”

In response to the legal challenge, “TikTok” reiterated in earlier court filings that it has not shared, and will not share, U.S. user data with the “Chinese government.” The company reaffirmed its commitment to protecting the “privacy and security” of “TikTok users” through “substantial measures.”

Judge Molloy, appointed by “Democratic President Bill Clinton,” acknowledged the merit in TikTok’s arguments and referenced what he termed “the pervasive undertone of anti-Chinese sentiment that permeates” the state’s legislation and legal case. The blocked state law in Montana had the potential to impose “fines of “$10,000” for each TikTok violation in the state, though it did not penalize individual users.

Molloy further highlighted that Montana’s attempt to exercise “foreign policy authority” exceeded its jurisdiction, emphasizing that the state’s action was overly broad. Montana’s ban on “TikTok,” unique in its attempt to entirely prohibit the app’s use, contributes to the ongoing debate over the regulation of popular social media platforms, hinting at potential precedents for future legal battles and regulatory decisions.

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