Montana ban on TikTok blocked, extending critics’ losing streak
A federal judge in Montana has blocked an order that would have blocked TikTok within the state’s borders in what has been a lengthy and unsuccessful campaign by critics of the popular video-sharing platform.
Judge Donald W. Molloy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana found that the state’s directive, which had been issued in December, violated the First Amendment by restricting speech on the basis of the app’s origin, namely China. The judge also found that the order was likely to fail under the Commerce Clause, which gives Congress exclusive authority to regulate interstate and foreign commerce.
The decision is particularly noteworthy given that other similar efforts have not fared as well in the courts. Last September, for example, a federal judge in Arkansas blocked an effort to ban the app within the state.
Critics of the platform have raised concerns over data privacy and security issues. That said, TikTok has strongly refuted these claims, arguing that the app stores all U.S. user data in the United States and Singapore.
The ruling is certain to be a blow to proponents of greater regulation of the app, however, it is not the final chapter on the matter. The judge also noted that the Department of Justice could still pursue the case in a different legal forum.