Montana's new law banning the use of TikTok is unconstitutional, the Chinese-owned company says in a new lawsuit that seeks to block the law from taking effect.
“By banning TikTok -- a forum that plaintiff and hundreds of thousands of individuals in Montana use to engage in constitutionally protected speech -- the TikTok ban unlawfully abridges one of the core freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment,” the company writes in a complaint brought Monday in U.S. District Court in Missoula.
TikTok also claims the ban violates other provisions of the constitution, and is overriden by federal law.
The new lawsuit comes just days after Governor Greg Gianforte signed a law prohibiting app stores from offering TikTok to people in Montana, and prohibiting from the use of the app in the state (with some exceptions for law enforcement). The measure doesn't penalize users, but provides for sanctions starting at $10,000 per violation against TikTok and mobile app marketplaces.
Last week, five TikTok users alleged in a separate lawsuit that the new law is unconstitutional.
Other states have recently banned the use of TikTok on government-owned devices or public WiFi networks, but Montana is the first to enact legislation prohibiting people from accessing TikTok on private devices or networks.
As with other states' efforts to restrict TikTok, the Montana bill was largely driven by concerns that TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, shares data about U.S. users with China.
TikTok says in its complaint that that concerns about data sharing are speculative, and untrue.
“The state has enacted these extraordinary and unprecedented measures based on nothing more than unfounded speculation,” the company says, adding that it “has not shared, and would not share, U.S. user data with the Chinese government.”
TikTok adds that there is no evidence that it “has ever been used to engage in espionage on behalf of any foreign government.”
The company also says the type of data it collects is “no different in kind from the data routinely collected by other apps and sources in today’s online world, which is widely available in the data broker market.”