Montana Governor Seeks Ban On All Apps That Share Data With Foreign Adversaries

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte is urging state lawmakers to ban all social media apps that share certain data with foreign adversaries.

Gianforte's request comes in response to Senate Bill 419, passed earlier this month, which would prohibit app stores from offering TikTok to users in Montana, and prohibit from people from using TikTok in the state (with some exceptions, such as for law enforcement). The measure doesn't penalize users, but provides for sanctions of $10,000 per day against TikTok and mobile app stores.

Gianforte this week returned the bill to the legislature, with proposed amendments. In addition to extending the ban to social media apps other than TikTok, Gianforte proposed removing a provision that would subject app marketplaces to sanctions. 

The Montana bill, like other recent efforts to curb the use of TikTok, was largely driven that data collected by the company about U.S. users is being shared with China. TikTok is owned by the Chinese-based company ByteDance.

Numerous states (including Montana) have banned the use of TikTok on government owned devices, but Montana is the first to attempt to prohibit people from accessing the app on private devices.

Civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Democracy and Technology and Electronic Frontier Foundation oppose the measure, arguing it violates the First Amendment.

“SB 419 is censorship,” the groups said in a letter sent to lawmakers earlier this month. “It would unjustly cut Montanans off from a platform where they speak out and exchange ideas everyday, and it would set an alarming precedent for excessive government control over how Montanans use the internet.”

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