Many US lawmakers believe the platform of short, entertaining videos, frequented by 150 million Americans, allows Beijing to spy on and manipulate users. The platform has always denied these accusations.
But the Montana parliament adopted a text in mid-April which orders mobile application stores (Apple and Google) to no longer distribute TikTok from January 1, 2024, while Congress and the White House are considering plans to similar law.
“TikTok exercises editorial judgment, a constitutionally protected right, to disseminate and promote content created by third parties,” the company’s attorneys say.
They also argue that the US state does not have the legal power to ban the app on national security grounds, a matter that falls under federal jurisdiction.
The complaint also refers to a principle of fairness. “Instead of regulating social networks in general, the law bans TikTok, and only TikTok for punitive reasons (…) based on speculative concerns about data security and content moderation”, argue the lawyers.
Montana elected officials also accuse TikTok of harmful effects on the health of the youngest (addiction, depression). Some Democratic representatives have replied that other social networks, such as Instagram, deserve to be regulated on all these subjects.
The TikTok platform threatened with a total ban in the United States
The powerful civil rights association ACLU has also accused the state of censorship.
“With this ban, Governor Gianforte and the Montana legislature are trampling on the freedom of speech of hundreds of thousands of Montana residents who use this app to express themselves, find information and promote their small business, on behalf of anti-Chinese sentiment,” Keegan Medrano, an official with the local ACLU branch, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Shortly after the governor of this northwestern US state, Greg Gianforte, signed the law into law, five TikTok users filed an appeal in federal court in Montana seeking the reversal of the decision.