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TikTok has filed a federal lawsuit against Montana in response to a recently passed state law that would ban the popular video service in the state.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in the United States District Court for the District of Montana, is intended to “prevent the state of Montana from unlawfully banning TikTok,” lawyers for the app’s parent company, ByteDance wrote.
“Montana’s ban abridges freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment, violates the U.S. Constitution in multiple other respects and is preempted by federal law,” the attorneys said.
Last week, Montana became the first U.S. state to ban TikTok over allegations the Chinese government can use the app for intelligence-gathering operations. When the ban comes into effect Jan. 1, 2024, Apple and Google’s app stores will not be legally allowed to offer TikTok to users in Montana, although it’s unclear how those companies will be able to implement the ban.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte described the ban as an “important measure” intended to advance “our shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance.”
TikTok disputes Montana’s allegations the Chinese government “could access data about TikTok users, and that TikTok exposes minors to harmful online content,” the lawsuit said.
“Yet the State cites nothing to support these allegations, and the State’s bare speculation ignores the reality that Plaintiff has not shared, and would not share, U.S. user data with the Chinese government, and has taken substantial measures to protect the privacy and security of TikTok users, including by storing all U.S. user data by default in the United States and by erecting safeguards to protect U.S. user data,” the attorneys added.
TikTok has been under fire from U.S. lawmakers over its alleged ties to the Chinese government. Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s CEO, withstood tough questioning from politicians in March and attempted to assuage their concerns by highlighting the company’s work with U.S. tech giant Oracle to develop infrastructure in Texas intended to store and process people’s data in the country.
With the lawsuit, TikTok hopes the court finds Montana’s ban “unconstitutional and preempted by federal law.”