Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has signed legislation to ban TikTok from the state, but it won’t go into effect until January 1 and could be overturned.
There have been many calls to ban TikTok in the United States over fears of Chinese surveillance. Even as the government seeks methods to ban the app outright, one state government has taken the initiative.
According to a report from The New York Times, the bill bans TikTok from operating inside the state, placing it on companies like Apple and Google to stop distributing the app. Although, it isn’t clear how the state will enforce this law.
“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,” Montana Mayor Greg Gianforte said in a statement.
The bill itself is quite the read. A lengthy preamble details why the app needs to be banned, including a section accusing the app of convincing minors to engage in dangerous activities such as “lighting a mirror on fire and then attempting to extinguish it using only one’s body parts” or “cooking chicken in NyQuil.”
WHEREAS, TikTok fails to remove, and may even promote, dangerous content that directs minors to engage in dangerous activities, including but not limited to throwing objects at moving automobiles, taking excessive amounts of medication, lighting a mirror on fire and then attempting to extinguish it using only one’s body parts, inducing unconsciousness through oxygen deprivation, cooking chicken in NyQuil, pouring hot wax on a user’s face, attempting to break an unsuspecting passerby’s skull by tripping him or her into landing face first into a hard surface, placing metal objects in electrical outlets, swerving cars at high rates of speed, smearing human feces on toddlers, licking doorknobs and toilet seats to place oneself at risk of contracting coronavirus, attempting to climb stacks of milkcrates, shooting passersby with air rifles, loosening lug nuts on vehicles, and stealing utilities from public places
The bill also accuses TikTok and parent company ByteDance of stealing user information to share it with the Chinese Communist Party. It allegedly enables China to conduct corporate and international espionage in Montana and track the real-time location of officials or journalists.
This ban is impossible to enforce and won’t last
Penalties described in the bill don’t apply to regular TikTok users, instead, they target app distribution platforms owned by Apple and Google. The companies could be liable for $10,000 for each discrete violation per day if TikTok is offered on their platforms.
Apple only has one App Store officially operated on iPhone. It isn’t clear how Apple would stop users in Montana from accessing the app without some kind of location tracking or geofencing trick, but those can be easily circumvented as long as TikTok is available in other states.
Google allows third-party app stores on its platforms. So while it could police the distribution of TikTok on Google Play, users can just download the app from other places.
The bill goes into effect on January 1, 2024. However, there are numerous forces that will be seeking this bill’s elimination before then, so it will likely never go into effect.
A national TikTok ban is still possible if the US government follows through with its plans. State-level bans are less likely to last or be enforceable in the long term.
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