TikTok developers are suing Montana over its app prohibition.
A number of TikTok users have filed a lawsuit to get the new statewide ban barring the app in Montana overturned on the grounds that Gov. Greg Gianforte’s signing of the legislation this week violates the First Amendment.
After the governor’s signing, the case was sent on Wednesday night to the US District Court for the District of Montana. It compares TikTok to other forms of media and argues that the state lacks the power to prevent Montanans from accessing and producing legal expression.
The lawsuit was brought by five TikTok artists, including a former Marine sergeant, a rancher, and a small swimwear company. “Montana can no more ban its residents from viewing or posting to TikTok than it could ban the Wall Street Journal because of who owns it or the ideas it publishes,” the complaint stated.
BOZEMAN, MT – APRIL 22: On April 22, 2017 in Bozeman, Montana, Republican Greg Gianforte runs for the Montana House of Representatives seat made vacant by Ryan Zinke’s appointment to lead the Department of the Interior. In support of Gianforte, who is challenging democrat Rob Quist in the special election scheduled for May 25, 2017, Donald Trump Jr. made an appearance at the occasion. (Image courtesy of Corbis/William Campbell via Getty Images)
Governor of Montana outlaws TikTok
The lawsuit could be the first attempt to overturn a contentious prohibition that extends far beyond the limitations Montana and other states have already put in place to ban TikTok on official government devices. The proposed prohibition would prevent TikTok from operating in the state and prevent downloads of the app on specific devices, but it would not punish users for using the app. Right now, January is the anticipated start date for the ban.
An inquiry for comment was not immediately answered by a Gianforte representative.
In a statement, Austin Knudsen, the attorney general of Montana, said that “we expected a legal challenge and are fully prepared to defend the law.”
In addition to First Amendment allegations, the lawsuit contends Montana’s ban violates the Fourteenth Amendment by depriving TikTok users of numerous other rights without due process.
Additionally, it asserts that the restriction infringes on the federal government’s constitutional rights to control interstate commerce and to determine foreign policy. It further asserts that the ban violates the International Emergency Economic Powers Act’s limitations on the federal government.