Montana became the first US state to ban the famous short video app TikTok after Governor Greg Gianforte signed legislation on Wednesday to put a stop on the Chinese-owned TikTok from functioning to safeguard citizens from alleged Chinese intelligence gathering.
According to the legislation, Google and Apple’s app stores are forbidden to offer TikTok in Montana, and those who use the application will not be punished. The ban, which is set to go into effect on January 1, 2024, will most probably encounter legal opposition.
In a previous statement, TikTok claimed that the latest legislation “infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok,” and that it would “continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.”
Usage of TikTok highest among US teens
Over 150 million Americans use TikTok, but there have been increasing calls from federal and state lawmakers to ban the app nationwide due to possible control of the Chinese government over the service.
For teenagers, TikTok has become part of their lifestyle and they have been using the application in big numbers. 67% of American youths between the ages of 13 and 17 use TikTok, and 16% of all teens say they use the app almost daily, according to the Pew Research Centre. According to TikTok, the “vast majority” of its users are older than 18.
Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of TikTok, was questioned by a congressional committee in March about whether the Chinese government could access user data or affect what Americans saw on the app. However, there have been no demands from Congress for a ban on TikTok countrywide or provide US President Joe Biden with powers to restrict the application or impose a ban.
A Commerce Department order issued in 2020 by the former president Donald Trump to prohibit fresh TikTok and WeChat downloads was thwarted in court and never went into effect.