TikTok is now facing a ban in the US for the first time. The government of the US state of Montana has signed a bill that puts a ban on TikTok. The new bill, SB 419, prohibits the operations of TikTok “within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana” and orders owners of mobile app marketplaces to delist the app for the residents of the state. Any violation would attract a fine of $10,000 per day. Also Read - Former ByteDance Exec claims company created bots to exaggerate metrics
In a tweet, Montana governor Greg Gianforte said, “To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana.” Also Read - Final nail in the coffin for TikTok in India? ByteDance fires entire India staff
Responding to the ban, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter tweeted: “Governor Gianforte has signed a bill that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of #Montana by unlawfully banning #TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state. We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.” Also Read - Instagram co-founders announce Artifact, a TikTok-like app for text
Could the ban be a threat to TikTok?
This is the first time TikTok is facing a law that bans its operations in a part of the US. The US government has time and again argued that the use of TikTok in the country could prove to be detrimental to society, largely because the platform’s owned by a Chinese company. And even though the new law could inspire other states, there are some loopholes.
According to The Verge, the new bill SB 419 says that TikTok cannot operate within Montana’s territorial jurisdiction and demands app stores make the app unavailable for downloading for the residents of Montana. The law does not impose any penalties on TikTok users, but the company, as well as companies running app stores, could face fines of $10,000 per violation per day. The bill states that if any user manages to access TikTok even once or download it, it would contribute to one violation and fines will be imposed on the company and app store owners.
At the same time, there is no provision for TikTok’s web interface in the bill. It also does not talk about ongoing updates to TikTok already downloaded on users’ phones since the penalty would be applied only when app stores offer the “option to download” TikTok within Montana’s jurisdiction. The report also said that the ban on TikTok would represent a restriction on US citizens’ access to the internet. But nothing is happening immediately. The bill goes into effect on January 1, 2024, so TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, as well as Apple and Google, have enough time for contests.
Lessons from India
The latest ban on TikTok comes about three years after ByteDance’s popular short video remix app faced a blanket ban in India. In 2020, the Indian government issued a circular that banned more than 100 apps linked to Chinese firms from operating in India immediately. The list included TikTok, the popular game PUBG Mobile, and shopping platforms, such as Shein. Over the last few years, ByteDance has tried to hold discussions with the government for the ban lift, but in vain. Last year, the company let go of the remaining workforce of its Indian office, hinting that there may be no more attempts at the revival of TikTok in India.