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TikTok sues Montana over first US state ban

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TikTok is suing Montana in an attempt to stop the US state from banning it over national security concerns, arguing that the move is both “unlawful” and “unconstitutional.”

The social media app, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday, just days after the governor of Montana signed legislation that would prevent app stores from allowing downloads of TikTok starting in January. Will stop in the state. It will also ban the app from operating in the western state, which has a population of around 11 lakh.

The proposed ban comes as governments and regulators around the world have raised fears that TikTok’s ties to China could allow the app to use its users’ data for espionage purposes. Notably, TikTok has become a flashpoint in rising tensions between China and the US, where it has 150 million users, with Washington calling on the short-form video app to split from its Chinese parent or face a federal ban. Where is it?

In Monday’s lawsuit, TikTok argued that the Montana law violates its First Amendment rights to free speech, and that the alleged national security concerns used to justify the ban were matters of “particular federal concern.”

The company also said the ban was in violation of US regulations on foreign and interstate commerce, and was in effect an unconstitutional “bill of attainder” – a piece of legislation that declares a group guilty of a crime without trial.

“The state has implemented these extraordinary and unprecedented measures based on nothing more than baseless speculation,” the lawsuit states.

Under Montana law, TikTok and app stores, such as Apple and Google, could face fines of up to $10,000 per day per violation if they do not comply.

Last week, a group of TikTok creators filed their own lawsuit challenging the law on First Amendment grounds.

The lawsuit sets up a potential court battle over free speech, even as TikTok seeks to distance itself from its parent company by spending more than $1.5 billion on “Project Texas,” protecting user data and content from Chinese influence. A corporate restructuring plan for.

However, talks over the deal have stalled, and earlier this year, the US government threatened to ban TikTok if its Chinese owner did not sell its stake – a move that Beijing publicly opposes.

Former President Donald Trump sought to ban the app in the US in 2020, but the effort was blocked by the courts. TikTok has recently been banned from government tools in the US, UK, Canada and the European Union.

“We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the thousands of TikTok users in Montana,” a TikTok spokesperson said Monday. “We are confident that our legal challenge will prevail on the basis of an extremely strong set of precedents and facts.”