Montana’s TikTok ban is now official. Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill banning the app in the state, one month after it was passed by the state’s legislature. The law is scheduled to take effect in 2024, though legal challenges could potentially delay that timeline.
The law prohibits the company from operating in the state and requires app stores to block users in Montana from downloading TikTok. The app’s users won’t face repercussions for using the service, but app stores and TikTok face daily fines of $10,000 for violating the law.
The statewide ban, and the expected legal challenge to it, offers a preview into how future attempts to ban the app could play out around the country. In a statement, a TikTok spokesperson said the Montana law “unlawfully” violates the First Amendment rights of its users.
“Governor Gianforte has signed a bill that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state,” the spokesperson said. “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.”
Like other officials who have proposed bans or restrictions on TikTok, Montana lawmakers have claimed that TikTok’s ties to ByteDance, a Chinese company, puts the personal data of US users at risk. The company has long denied that it would turn over such data to the Chinese government, and has invested more than $1 billion into Project Texas to address data security concerns raised by US regulators.
But officials have reportedly said those efforts don’t go far enough, and the US government is now trying to force ByteDance to sell TikTok. If it doesn’t, TikTok will face a nationwide ban and, likely, another massive legal fight.