Judge blocks Montana’s TikTok ban from going into effect Jan. 1

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The TikTok logo is displayed on March 16, 2023 on signs outside the TikTok social media app company’s offices in Culver City, California.



CNN

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily halted Montana’s statewide TikTok ban, which was set to take effect in early 2024, pending a hearing on the matter.

In an order, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said that despite the state government’s attempts to defend the law, “the current record shows Montana’s legislature and attorney general are more interested in targeting China’s apparent role in TikTok than in protecting Montana consumers.”

Molloy also said TikTok showed that the law may have violated the First Amendment.

“In shutting down TikTok, the Legislature harmed the First Amendment rights of user plaintiffs and cut off income that many depend on. Thus, Plaintiffs have established a likelihood of irreparable harm,” Molloy wrote.

Molloy’s order is the latest blow to state critics of the popular app, which has 150 million users in the US alone. Thursday’s decision marks a setback for Montana policymakers, who had hoped to ban TikTok on all personal devices in the state, but sends a signal to others considering similar plans.

In a statement, Emily Cantrell, a deputy communications director at Montana’s attorney general’s office, said the suspension was a “preliminary decision.”

“The judge indicated several times that the analysis may change as the case progresses and that the state has an opportunity to present a full factual record. We look forward to presenting a thorough legal argument to defend the law protecting Montanans from the Chinese Communist Party,” Cantrell said.

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Montana’s governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Act constituted as First of its kind The country banned the app from operating across state borders, with violators facing fines of up to $10,000 per day. It was signed in May by Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, who said the law was necessary to protect Montanans’ personal data from “the Chinese Communist Party.”

Montana’s law was challenged by a group of TikTok and the app’s content creators, who argued, in part, that the ban violated their First Amendment rights.

Stop It comes as lawmakers grapple with TikTok’s ties to China. The social media app is owned by China-based Bit Dance. Although there is no evidence that the Chinese government has ever accessed the personal information of US-based TikTok users, many US officials have expressed fears that the Chinese government could access US data via TikTok for espionage purposes.

The legal battle is being watched closely as it is seen as a bellwether for TikTok’s future in the US, where dozens of states and the US government have already banned the use on official devices but have so far avoided banning the use on personal devices. .

Other state governments have tried their own methods to curb the widespread use of TikTok. On Thursday, another judge Dismissed a case The state of Indiana filed a lawsuit against TikTok, accusing the company of making false claims about the security of user data and age-appropriate content. The judge in that case, Indiana State Judge Jennifer DeGroot, said the court “does not have personal jurisdiction” over TikTok, according to court documents.

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Montana’s ban attempt marked the highest step by a state government to regulate TikTok over perceived security concerns.

At the October hearing, Molloy He blasted Montana’s law Driven by the “paternalistic” views of social media users, they suggest lawmakers may have taken measures other than the ban to try to achieve their goals.

CNN’s Samantha Murphy Kelly contributed reporting.

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