The Montana House of Representatives on Friday voted 54-43 to pass legislation banning TikTok from operating within state lines and preventing residents from downloading the app.
Lawmakers sent the bill to Republican Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, and it will take effect in January 2024 if he signs it, according to CNN.
“The governor will carefully consider any bill the legislature sends to his desk,” Gianforte spokesperson Brooke Stroyke told the outlet.
Montana is on its way to being the first state in the nation to ban TikTok. Glad to report our bill is headed to the Governor’s desk.
This legislation is a critical step to ensuring we are protecting Montanans’ privacy.https://t.co/FNI6jfLW8E
— Austin Knudsen (@MTAGKnudsen) April 14, 2023
The bill targets TikTok specifically, and violators will be fined $10,000 per violation per day the if legislation goes into effect in January 2024. If TikTok is sold by its China-based parent company, ByteDance, or if Congress passes a ban, the legislation will be nullified. The Biden administration recommended ByteDance sell TikTok to avoid a potential ban after a years-long national security review process that concluded in March. (RELATED: ‘Clear Threat’: Critics Raise Concern ‘RESTRICT’ Act Empowers Biden While Leaving Chinese ‘Spyware’ In Place)
TikTok hinted at a legal challenge to the potential ban in a statement to CNN.
“The bill’s champions have admitted that they have no feasible plan for operationalizing this attempt to censor American voices and that the bill’s constitutionality will be decided by the courts,” TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter told the outlet. “We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach.”
TikTok has come under significant bipartisan scrutiny because of national security concerns surrounding ByteDance. At a March congressional hearing, bipartisan group of lawmakers grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew about the app’s alleged surveillance of American users and ByteDance’s alleged ties to the Chinese government.
Montana is one of several U.S. states to ban TikTok on government devices due to national security concerns. Congress passed similar legislation as part of its $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill signed by President Joe Biden in December 2022.