What You Need To Know:
Eighteen state attorneys general have thrown their weight behind Montana’s move to ban the Chinese-owned app TikTok. They’re urging a U.S. judge to reject legal challenges before the Jan. 1 start date. Led by Virginia and including states like Georgia, Alaska, Utah, Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kentucky, and South Dakota, they argue that TikTok uses deceptive practices, coaxing users to share sensitive data accessible to the Chinese Communist Party.
TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, hasn’t responded to requests for comment. In May, the company filed a suit to block the unprecedented state ban, citing First Amendment rights for both the company and users. A hearing on TikTok’s request for a preliminary injunction is slated for Oct. 12.
These states assert that TikTok, used by over 150 million Americans, faces mounting pressure from U.S. lawmakers for a nationwide ban due to concerns about potential Chinese government influence.
Last month, Montana’s Attorney General Austin Knudsen, a Republican, commended the state’s decision to bar TikTok’s operations while it’s controlled by a foreign adversary. In March, lawmakers accused TikTok of spreading harmful content and causing distress to young users.
TikTok insists it “has not and would not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government” and has taken significant steps to protect user privacy and security.
Montana could fine TikTok $10,000 per violation, though individual users wouldn’t face penalties. TikTok estimates that 380,000 Montanans use its video service, more than a third of the state’s 1.1 million population.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump attempted to halt new TikTok downloads in 2020, but court rulings prevented the ban.