- Written by Bernd Debussmann Jr.
- BBC News, Washington
Montana has become the first US state to pass legislation banning the use of TikTok on personal devices.
TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has been accused of posing a national security risk through data collected from users.
If the bill is signed into law by Governor Greg Gianforte, the ban could go into effect in January.
The company suggested that it would take legal action to fight the Montana bill.
The bill, known as SB 419, passed 54 to 43. It cites a number of concerns about TikTok, including alleged Chinese government surveillance.
It also notes the encouragement of “dangerous activities” among young app users, such as “throwing things at moving cars” or “setting a mirror on fire and then trying to put it out using only body parts”.
Legislation prohibits app stores from offering TikTok. However, that doesn’t stop those who already have TikTok from using it.
Violations of the law could result in a fine of up to $10,000 (£8,000), which will be enforced by the Montana Department of Justice. Penalties apply to companies, not individuals.
It is expected to be signed by Gianforte, a Republican who previously banned the app on the devices of government employees.
A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement that “defenders of the bill acknowledged that there was no practical plan to implement this attempt to censor American votes and that the constitutionality of the bill would be decided by the courts.
“We will continue to fight for the TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this massive government abuse,” the spokesperson added.
Governments around the world — including the United States — have moved to ban government employees from using TikTok on official devices.
In March, US President Biden told ByteDance that the company faced a potential federal ban if it didn’t get rid of its ownership in the app.
Although there was no public evidence that TikTok misused American users’ personal information, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate committee in March that the app was “crying” about security issues.
He added that the authorities were “not sure that we would see many outward signs of what was going on if that happened.”
Industry groups have also criticized Montana’s legislation and similar efforts to restrict access to the app.
The BBC’s US partner, CBS, quoted Carl Szabo, vice-president and general counsel of NetChoice – an industry group that includes TikTok – as saying the bill “sets a dangerous precedent that the government can try to ban any company it hates without clear evidence.” .to commit a crime.»