Montana Judge Stops TikTok Ban

( – State governors across the nation have implemented restrictions or bans on TikTok. Politicians, mostly Conservatives, believe the Chinese government is using the app for nefarious reasons. Montana is one of the states that blocked the app, but now a judge has ruled against it.

In May, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R) signed SB0419 into law. The legislation banned anyone in the state from using TikTok. It’s the only law in the country that completely prohibits the use of the app in a state and is being watched closely by people on both sides of the debate.

On November 30, US District Judge Donald Molloy issued a preliminary injunction against the law that was slated to go into effect on January 1, 2024. The judge determined the law violated the constitutional rights of state residents in several ways.

In his ruling, Molloy stated that the ban “oversteps state power” and was intended to attack China more than it was meant to protect the people of Montana. He pointed to the state’s data that didn’t show the app has illegally shared user data with the Chinese government.

Further, the judge ruled the law violates the First Amendment rights of the 300,000+ Montana residents who use the app as “ a ‘means of expression.’” The state argued the judge should not block the law on First Amendment grounds because it concerned the conduct of a company. They likened the law to a hypothetical ban on a radio that causes cancer. Molloy shot down that argument, saying it was not a “persuasive” analogy.

The judge also dismissed the argument that users could express themselves on other social media apps, saying the law would prohibit Montanans from “communicating by their preferred means of speech.”

The case will now go to trial, and Molloy will decide whether to issue a permanent injunction against the law. Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen drafted the law, and his spokesperson, Emilee Cantrell, pointed out that the judge’s ruling was “preliminary.” She said the state is looking forward to the trial, where they will prove why the law “protects Montanans from the Chinese Communist Party” nefariously using Americans’ data.

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