Governor bans TikTok state-wide in Montana; Could similar legislation come to Louisiana?

The Governor of Montana has banned TikTok in his state.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 5:45 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Governor of Montana has banned TikTok in his state.

Republican Greg Gianforte signed a bill making the state the first in the country to ban TikTok. It also prohibits mobile application stores from offering TikTok within the state.

Gianforte said it is to protect people’s data and personal information from the app’s Chinese ties.

In a statement, he said, “Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.”

“Is there a valid claim that TikTok is using this information in some kind of nefarious or treasonous way that can be used against the United States? It’s an interesting question,” said Franz Borghardt, a legal analyst.

In a statement to the Associated Press, a spokesperson with TikTok argued that the new law is unlawful and infringes on people’s first amendment rights.

“We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana,” said the statement.

“The important thing to remember is constitutional questions like this, can be fast-tracked to the United States Supreme Court,” said Borghardt.

Borghardt said individuals who create content on TikTok, commercial entities that are losing money because of the ban, and TikTok’s parent company itself could file a lawsuit, which could make it all the way to the Supreme Court.

He believes this would be their possible argument.

“Any harm or risk that they pose to a state or to the United States, is far outweighed by the constitutional right to free speech, and this kind of banning is too much, overbroad, too much,” said Borghardt.

However, this would possibly be the argument by Montana state officials.

“This is what the Montana government’s going to say, we have a right to safeguard our citizens and this behavior is appropriate,” said Borghardt.

Here in Louisiana, House Bill 361, which would prohibit the use of TikTok and related applications on computers and networks owned or leased by the state, unanimously passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, May 17, and is moving on to the Senate now.

According to the AP, Montana’s state-wide ban won’t take effect until January 2024. And it will not happen if the social media platform is sold to a company not considered a threat by the federal government.

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