TikTok sues Montana over state's ban of app

ByMax Zahn ABCNews logo
Monday, May 22, 2023
Montana becomes 1st state to ban TikTok
The measure is expected to be challenged legally and will serve as a testing ground for the TikTok-free America that many national lawmakers have envisioned.

TikTok sued Montana in federal court on Monday over a ban of the app enacted by the state last week.

NOTE: The video in the media player is from a previous report.

"We are challenging Montana's unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana," the company said in a statement. "We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts."

The office of Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges that the ban violates the First Amendment, arguing that the measure shuts down a "forum for speech for all speakers on the app," singling out TikTok users for "disfavored treatment."

Among a host of other challenges, TikTok said the ban is preempted by federal law because it is attempting to address an issue rooted in national security that is handled by the U.S. government.

The Montana ban, the first measure of its kind in the U.S., does not prevent current users from accessing the app or penalize them for doing so.

Instead, the ban targets the availability of the app by threatening entities such as TikTok, Google and Apple with a $10,000 fine for each day that the platform remains accessible in app stores for users in Montana.

The ban takes effect in January 2024.

TikTok serves hundreds of thousands of users in Montana and more than 5,000 businesses, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter previously told ABC News.

State officials will be able to enforce the law by observing whether app stores display TikTok for users in Montana, and the relevant companies should be largely capable of identifying where users reside and denying access accordingly, experts previously said.