The US State of Montana Set to be the First to Ban TikTok

The US State of Montana is set to be the first state in America to ban the popular video-sharing app TikTok.

The US State of Montana Set to be the First to Ban TikTok
A TikTok ban is looming in the state of Montana. Here's all you need to know. Photo by visuals / Unsplash

The US State of Montana is set to be the first state in America to ban the popular video-sharing app TikTok. The state's governor, Greg Gianforte, signed legislation blocking TikTok from operating in the state in what is seen as the first major advance in TikTok bans in the United States.

Montana Set to be the First State to Ban TikTok

Montana will become the first state to ban the popular app TikTok, citing security concerns and due to alleged intelligence gathering by the Chinese via the app. The app is widely popular among teens, with figures showing that over 67% of teenagers between 13-17 have installed the app and 16% use it regularly.

An image of a TikTok Profile on iPhone 11 Pro. Montana will ban TikTok starting Jan 1 2024
TikTok is hugely popular among teens. Photo by Aaron Weiss / Unsplash

When the Montana TikTok Ban Will Take Effect

According to the bill, Montana's TikTok ban will take effect starting January 1st, 2024. The state will rely on Google Play and App Stores to ensure that the app is not available on their platforms but will not penalize individual users for using the app. Essentially, past Jan 1 next year, TikTok will not be available on Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

TikTok Seen as a Risk to National Security

According to the governor, the ban ensures "our [Montana's] shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance." The bill has officially passed but may still need further approval from the courts as there is sure to be legal opposition.

An image of TikTok running on an iPhone with the Chinese flag displayed behind it
There have been concerns that the Chinese government uses TikTok to spy on US citizens. Photo by Solen Feyissa / Unsplash

ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok said in a statement earlier that the law "infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok." The company further said that it will "continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana."

Is the Bill to Ban TikTok Now Law in Montana?

Yes. The bill, after being signed by the governor effectively becomes law and will take effect on the 1st of January 2024. In Montana, a bill becomes law after passing the Senate and then being signed into law by the governor. Refer to the image below to see the process from bill to law in Montana.

The process of how a bill becomes law in Montana
A bill becomes law in Montana after going through the Senate and being assented to by the governor. Source:

What Next for TikTok Users in Montana

At the moment, TikTok remains available to all the people of Montana. This will change after Jan 1 2024 as the app will no longer be available to download on both Google Play Store and the App Store. As such, one should ensure they keep the app updated until then. Some users have even considered ways to avoid the ban, including installing a VPN that makes it look like the person is in another state.

Will Montana be Able to Ban TikTok Use Effectively?

No. The state may not be able to completely ban TikTok use as users can use a VPN to make it look like their devices are in other states. To ban the app for Montana users, the app stores will need a way to geolocate users and this will mostly rely on users' IP addresses. A VPN effectively masks these so it will be difficult to institute an actionable ban against TikTok. The danger, however, is if the ban inspires a nationwide TikTok ban which would mean any user in the US may not be able to install the app.

Read about how safe your information on TikTok really is below.

How Safe Are Your Secrets on TikTok? Examining the Connection between ByteDance, China, Social Media, and U.S. National Security
The Trump administration went as far as to try and ban the app in the US, citing concerns over national security.