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HomeOutdoorsCampingJudge Sides with Content Creators and Blocks Montana’s TikTok Ban

Judge Sides with Content Creators and Blocks Montana’s TikTok Ban

A federal judge issued an order on Thursday temporarily blocking a Montana law that would prohibit the social media app TikTok from operating within the state. 

In his ruling, District Judge Donald W. Molloy said the law broadly violates First Amendment rights, and he rejected the state’s claim that lawmakers were trying to protect consumers when they wrote the law. 

“Despite the State’s attempt to defend SB 419 as a consumer protection bill, the current record leaves little doubt that Montana’s legislature and Attorney General were more interested in targeting China’s ostensible role in TikTok than with protecting Montana consumers,” Molloy wrote in his ruling. 

In support of his claim, the judge added that Montana lawmakers passed a separate law to “broadly protect consumers’ digital data and privacy,” and he called the “foreign affairs hand” the “Achilles’ heel” of the TikTok ban. 

Although Chinese entrepreneurs founded TikTok, court records show it is owned by ByteDance, which operates out of Singapore and the U.S. However, conservative political figures argue that it still has Chinese influences, namely that it collects user data and uses an algorithm to prioritize anti-American ideas. 

In response to the ruling, TikTok said in a statement posted to X that it’s “pleased the judge rejected this unconstitutional law and hundreds of thousands of Montanans can continue to express themselves, earn a living, and find community on TikTok.”

Although TikTok is funding the lawsuit, the plaintiffs in the case consist of a group of content creators who use their channels to entertain, educate, or promote their brands to the public. They include the owner of a bathing suit company, a rancher, an outdoor influencer, a veteran advocate, and a lifestyle blogger. Together, they argue that TikTok gives them greater reach than other social media platforms without having to pay advertising fees. 

In a statement to Outdoors.com, the Montana Attorney General’s Office maintained its concerns about TikTok. Emilee Cantrell, an AG spokeswoman, said the court’s “analysis could change as the case proceeds and the State has the opportunity to present a full factual record.”

“We look forward to presenting the complete legal argument to defend the law that protects Montanans from the Chinese Communist Party obtaining and using their data,” Cantrell said. 

The law, which state lawmakers passed in May, was scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. If enacted, it would impose a $10,000 penalty on either TikTok or a mobile app store each time a user accessed or downloaded the platform. 

However, the temporary injunction delays the law until the state convinces the court to rule in its favor or the plaintiffs convince the court to overturn it. 

The post Judge Sides with Content Creators and Blocks Montana’s TikTok Ban appeared first on Outdoors with Bear Grylls.

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