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TikTok has filed a federal lawsuit against Montana in response to a recently passed state law that might ban the favored video service within the state.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in the USA District Court for the District of Montana, is meant to “prevent the state of Montana from unlawfully banning TikTok,” lawyers for the app’s parent company, ByteDance wrote.
“Montana’s ban abridges freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment, violates the U.S. Structure in multiple other respects and is preempted by federal law,” the attorneys said.
Last week, Montana became the primary U.S. state to ban TikTok over allegations the Chinese government can use the app for intelligence-gathering operations. When the ban comes into effect Jan. 1, 2024, Apple and Google’s app stores won’t be legally allowed to supply TikTok to users in Montana, even though it’s unclear how those corporations will have the ability to implement the ban.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte described the ban as an “vital measure” intended to advance “our shared priority to guard Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance.”
TikTok disputes Montana’s allegations the Chinese government “could access data about TikTok users, and that TikTok exposes minors to harmful online content,” the lawsuit said.
“Yet the State cites nothing to support these allegations, and the State’s bare speculation ignores the fact that Plaintiff has not shared, and wouldn’t share, U.S. user data with the Chinese government, and has taken substantial measures to guard the privacy and security of TikTok users, including by storing all U.S. user data by default in the USA and by erecting safeguards to guard U.S. user data,” the attorneys added.
TikTok has been under fire from U.S. lawmakers over its alleged ties to the Chinese government. Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s CEO, withstood tough questioning from politicians in March and attempted to assuage their concerns by highlighting the corporate’s work with U.S. tech giant Oracle to develop infrastructure in Texas intended to store and process people’s data within the country.
With the lawsuit, TikTok hopes the court finds Montana’s ban “unconstitutional and preempted by federal law.”
Watch: Banning TikTok at a state level ‘doesn’t make sense,’ says Craft Ventures’ David Sacks