Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill banning TikTok in Montana, making it the first state to ban the app in the U.S fully.
“Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party,” Gianforte said in a statement.
Montana will make it unlawful for Google and Apple’s app stores to offer TikTok within the state, but will not impose any penalties on individuals using the app. The ban is to take effect Jan. 1, 2024 and is almost certain to face legal challenges.
TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter argued that the law infringes on people’s First Amendment rights and is unlawful. “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,” Oberwetter said in a statement.
The residents of Montana could easily bypass the ban by using a virtual private network, a service that prevents others from observing their web browsing.
Some states, like Utah and Arkansas, have already enacted laws that would hinge social media use on parental consent. Similar bills are in the works in other states. Last year, California enacted a law requiring companies to beef up data protection practices for children and offer them the highest privacy settings.