Montana has become the first US state to pass legislation banning TikTok from nearly all devices. There are still some uncertainties about how the ban will actually work, but many suspect other states might be looking to roll out similar laws to prohibit the social media platform.
Montana’s House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill, known as SB 419, with 54 votes to 43 on Friday, April 14. If it’s signed into law by Governor Greg Gianforte, the ban could come into effect in January 2024.
The law will ban app stores from offering the application for download. Any company caught breaking the law could face a fine of $10,000, as well as a further $10,000 fine for each day it’s continued to be violated.
However, the bill doesn’t appear to forbid people to use the app if they already have it downloaded.
The bill cites a few reasons for the ban. First and foremost, it suggests the Chinese-owned company ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, could be collecting data on US citizens on behalf of the Chinese government.
“The People's Republic of China is an adversary of the United States and Montana and has an interest in gathering information about Montanans, Montana companies, and the intellectual property of users to engage in corporate and international espionage,” says the bill.
“TikTok fails to remove, and may even promote, dangerous content that directs minors to engage in dangerous activities, including but not limited to throwing objects at moving automobiles, taking excessive amounts of medication, lighting a mirror on fire, and then attempting to extinguish it using only one's body parts, inducing unconsciousness through oxygen deprivation, cooking chicken in NyQuil,” the bill reads.
It continues: “pouring hot wax on a user's face, attempting to break an unsuspecting passerby's skull by tripping him or her into landing face first into a hard surface, placing metal objects in electrical outlets, swerving cars at high rates of speed, smearing human feces on toddlers, licking doorknobs and toilet seats to place oneself at risk of contracting coronavirus, attempting to climb stacks of milkcrates, shooting passersby with air rifles, loosening lug nuts on vehicles, and stealing utilities from public places.”
The US has been ramping up its opposition to TikTok. Back in February 2023, the White House told all US federal agencies their employees had 30 days to delete TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices, once again citing cybersecurity fears from China. The UK government followed suit with similar action.
There has been serious talk about imposing a total federal TikTok ban across the US. It’s still uncertain how and when this might kick into action, but it’s obvious that pressure against the Chinese-owned app is mounting.