Montana’s ban on TikTok is blocked by a US federal judge

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It has been reported that US District Judge Donald Molloy issued a preliminary injunction against a state law that would ban TikTok in Montana next year, stating that it “oversteps the state’s power and infringes on the constitutional rights of the users,”  NBC News reported citing court documents.

It will take effect in January 2024 and will impose a $10,000 penalty for users every time they are offered the opportunity to download TikTok and the state of Montana, the first to ban the app, has imposed the ban in May with Governor Greg Gianforte signing the bill set to take effect in January 2024.

The Montana Justice Department would also be tasked with the enforcement of this law, which would hold TikTok and the app stores responsible, not the users themselves.

Samantha Alario, Heather DiRocco, Carly Ann Goddard, Alice Held, and Dale Stout are five content creators who sued Montana after it was signed by the governor. The plaintiffs claimed Montana had overstepped its rights in exercising its “power over national security” and it was violating their rights as citizens.

A Chinese company, ByteDance, which owns TikTok, also sued the state and the state responded in court.

A representative for TikTok has issued an email statement saying that the platform is happy that the judge ruled that the unconstitutional law has been overturned and that hundreds of thousands of Montanans can continue to express themselves, earn a living, and connect with others on the platform.”

According to TikTok creators’ lead counsel, Ambika Kumar, in a statement, it is a great relief that the judge recognized that the ban on the service is unwarranted and unconstitutional to them.

The Montana Attorney General’s office released a statement in response to Molloy’s decision, saying: “This is a preliminary matter at the moment and that we will continue to monitor the matter.”

In an email statement, she said in part, “The judge made it clear that the analysis might change as the case progresses and the State has the opportunity to present the whole record of the facts of the case.”

It continued with the following statement: “We look forward to presenting the complete legal arguments on behalf of the measure that protects Montanans from the Chinese Communist Party gaining access and using their data in the future.”

NBC News’ request for comment was not immediately responded to by a spokesperson for Gianforte’s office, however Molloy, during an October 12 hearing in Missoula, grilled representatives of the state attorney general’s office in an effort to get information about any potential corruption in the state.

The governor asked former Montana Solicitor General Christian Corrigan whether he thought that other states had not followed Montana’s lead by banning TikTok, which Montana had done a year ago. 

That news provided by timenews.

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