United States: TikTok files a complaint against Montana

This ban violates the United States Constitution in several respectssays the company, and specifically the first amendment that guarantees that free expressionargues the document consulted by AFP.

Many US lawmakers believe the short, entertaining video platform used by 150 million Americans allows Beijing to spy on and manipulate users. The company has always denied these allegations.

But the Montana legislature passed text in mid-April directing mobile app stores (Apple and Google) to stop distributing TikTok starting Jan. 1, 2024, while Congress and the White House consider similar bills.

TikTok exercises editorial discretion, a constitutionally protected right, to distribute and promote content created by third partiessay the company’s lawyers.

A principle of fairness

They also argue that the US state does not have the legal authority to ban the app on grounds of national security, a federal matter.

The complaint also relates to a principle of justice. Instead of regulating social networks in general, the law bans TikTok, and only TikTok for criminal reasons […] based on speculative concerns about data security and content moderationargue the lawyers.

Democratic representatives had already pointed out in the debates that many of the criticisms expressed about data secrecy, misinformation or harmful effects on the health of young people (addiction, depression) on TikTok also apply to other social networks such as Instagram.

When the governor of that Northwest American state, Greg Gianforte, signed the law into law last Wednesday, many voices were heard accusing Montana of censorship or pointing out that the text would be technically and legally difficult to enforce.

With this ban, Gov. Gianforte and the Montana Legislature, in the name of anti-sentiment, are stepping down on the freedom of expression of the hundreds of thousands of residents who use this app to speak out, find information, and promote their small business. -Chinese. »

A quote from Keegan Medrano, local leader of the Civil Rights Association (ACLU)

Five TikTok users have appealed to Montana federal court to have the law overturned.

Under the First Amendment to the US Constitution TikTok has the right to spread information and users have the right to receive and also spread informationUniversity of Florida law professor Lyrissa Lidsky told AFP.

The text therefore has high probability of being considered unconstitutionalshe explained.

The law would be void if TikTok were acquired by an American company (or any country not hostile to the United States), and the White House has encouraged TikTok to seek such a solution if it wants to be able to , able to stay country. .

A long-standing debate

The fate of TikTok in the United States has been debated for several years. Donald Trump had already tried in vain to ban the application.

But recent trade and political tensions with China are fueling hostility towards the Chinese government among elected officials and public opinion. The flight of an alleged Chinese spy balloon in February, particularly over Montana, did not help matters.

TikTok is already banned on the phones of employees of many organizations, from the European Commission to federal agencies in the United States. India banned the service entirely in 2020.

However, NGOs and elected Democrats emphasize that to circumvent the law, users simply need to use VPNs (virtual private networks) that allow access to the Internet from another location.

And they won’t be penalized because the law only provides fines for app stores.

The irony is that Montana is the anti-government and regulatory capital. All that matters is freedom — except apparently when it comes to TikTokcommented Monday University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias.

Jordan Johnson

Award-winning entrepreneur. Baconaholic. Food advocate. Wannabe beer maven. Twitter ninja.

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