TikTok launched a fierce legal offensive against Montana on Monday, protesting a ban imposed on the social media titan by state officials. The company is holding its ground, arguing that the new law infringes upon the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.
Montana's recent enactment of a bill barring app stores from offering TikTok for download within the state has triggered this high-stakes legal brawl. This legislation comes amidst federal claims that the popular platform, a brainchild of Chinese tech giant ByteDance, could potentially grant the Chinese Communist Party access to US user data.
Presenting the lawsuit in federal court, TikTok declared, “The state has enacted these extraordinary and unprecedented measures based on nothing more than unfounded speculation,” the Daily Wire reported.
The legal team representing TikTok insists that the ban oversteps First Amendment boundaries by "shutting down the forum for speech for all speakers on the app and singling these speakers out for disfavored treatment."
They further argue that it infringes upon the Commerce Clause, which safeguards interstate and foreign commerce from excessive state government interference. Additionally, they suggest that it serves as a bill of attainder, a constitutionally prohibited decree of criminal guilt and punishment by the legislature.
Defending its stance, TikTok declared:
We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana. We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts.
However, Montana Republican Governor Greg Gianforte maintains that the law serves to guard "private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party." State Sen. Shelley Vance, who sponsored the bill, flagged TikTok as a "major threat to our national security."
TikTok's attorneys also contend that the ban trespasses federal law as it "intrudes upon matters of exclusive federal concern."
In a parallel narrative, a federal lawsuit lodged last week by five social media influencers echoed this argument, stating that Montana oversteps its authority when it comes to matters of national security.