TikTok has filed a lawsuit challenging the state of Montana’s ban on the Chinese-owned app.
TikTok said that the ban violates the First Amendment rights of the company and its users. The ban, signed into law by Montana governor Greg Gianforte, last week, would come into force on 1 January 2024.
The lawsuit also argued that the ban is preempted by federal laws because it intrudes on matters of exclusive federal concern. The company also said it violates the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, which limits the authority of States to enact legislation that unduly burdens interstate and foreign commerce.
It also said in its filing that it “has not shared, and would not share, U.S. user data with the Chinese government, and has taken substantial measures to protect the privacy and security of TikTok users.”
Brooke Oberwetter, a TikTok spokeswoman, said in a statement that the company was”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.”
Emily Flower, a spokesperson for Montana Attorney General Autin Knudsen, said that the state “expected legal challenges and [is] fully prepared to defend the law that helps protect Montanans’ privacy and security.”
Closer to home, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signed off on a law banning the app from being installed on state-issued devices in order to fall in line with the rest of the “Five Eyes” intelligence partners — the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand.
At the time, TikTok’s general manager for Australia said that the decision was driven “by politics, not by facts” and that “there is no evidence to suggest that TikTok is in any way a security risk to Australians and we should not be treated differently to other social media platforms.”
While the bans in Montana and on government-issued devices in Australia are doubtless concerning for TikTok, advertisers have told B&T that they are not hugely concerned at the moment.
“TikTok ad spend at the moment is not huge. It’s only maybe about 10 per cent of digital ad spend,” said one media buying exec.
They also added that “I don’t think anyone truly believes that there is going to be a ban in Australia, that would be quite a hard thing to do and quite a lengthy process. But the general conversation about the ban and the banning of TikTok on government devices is actually making advertisers a little bit nervous and a bit more cautious about whether they should be on the platform.”