TikTok is now suing Montana over legislation that bans the app across the state. Montana is suddenly facing legal challenges from both TikTok creators and the platform itself.
The company filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana on Monday, seeking to have the law reversed. The ban was signed into law by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R), who at the time said the intention of the legislation is to “protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.” That’s because TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese media giant that has been caught accessing American data and spying on American journalists.
“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 about the lawsuit. “We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts.”
The Montana law reads “the People’s Republic of China is an adversary of the United States and Montana and has an interest in gathering information about Montanans, Montana companies, and the intellectual property of users to engage in corporate and international espionage.”
Because of the way Chinese law works, ByteDance like other Chinese corporations, may be asked to share information with the Chinese government. The law also alleges that TikTok “fails to remove, and may even promote, dangerous content that directs minors to engage in dangerous activities.”
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew appeared before the U.S. House of Representatives in a hearing hoping to clear up misconceptions about the app. But his inability to answer questions about China’s influence over TikTok and its ability to access user data via the app sparked increasing concerns over whether the app should be banned in the U.S.
“Montana’s ban abridges freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment, violates the U.S. Constitution in multiple other respects, and is preempted by federal law,” TikTok says in its lawsuit seeking to reverse the ban.