Citing national security concerns, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte on Wednesday signed into law a controversial bill banning most uses of TikTok in the state.
Lawmakers in other states have banned the app from government-owned devices or networks, but Montana is the first to attempt to prevent use of the app on people's personal smartphones.
The new law -- slated to take effect next year -- prohibits app stores from offering the Chinese-owned app to users in Montana, and prohibits people from using TikTok in the state (with some exceptions, including for law enforcement).
"To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana," Gianforte tweeted.
He also said he ordered the state's
chief information officer "ban any application that provides personal information or data to foreign adversaries from the state network."
The moves are likely to face legal challenges from TikTok, civil liberties groups, influencers and other tech companies.
Watchdogs including the American Civil Liberties Union have repeatedly argued that banning apps violates the First Amendment.
Wednesday evening, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University executive director Jameel Jaffer predicted the new bill will be invalidated in court.
“Montanans are indisputably exercising their First Amendment rights when they post and consume content on TikTok," Jaffer stated. "Because Montana can’t establish that the ban is necessary or tailored to any legitimate interest, the law is almost certain to be struck down as unconstitutional.”
For instance, real estate broker Cari Olson argued against the ban in a recent Billings Gazette guest column.
“I often use TikTok for my business to help increase sales, expand customer base, and conduct outreach for market trends,” Olson wrote. “Without this direct line of communication with customers, sales will likely slump. Small businesses like mine cannot afford this kind of decrease in revenue and subsequent strain on operations, and it’s possible we’d be forced to lay off employees as a result.”