Montana lawmakers move forward with bill to ban TikTok in the state

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Montana lawmakers were poised to take an important step forward in their efforts to prohibit TikTok from functioning in the state. The proposed law, which has the support of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, is broader than restrictions in roughly half of the states and the federal government of the United States that simply prohibit TikTok on government equipment.

The proposed law, which had its second hearing vote in the House already, is scheduled to be voted on, and if passed, will be sent to Republican Governor Greg Gianforte. In Montana, the Governor has already prohibited the use of TikTok on government equipment, and the Senate passed the measure 30-20 in March.

TikTok has come under fire for fears that it may share user data with the Chinese government or spread pro-Beijing propaganda and disinformation. Leaders at the FBI and CIA, as well as several senators from both parties, have highlighted similar concerns but have failed to provide proof to back them up.

Those who support the proposed ban refer to two Chinese regulations that require Chinese enterprises to collaborate with the government on state intelligence activity. They also point out that ByteDance announced in December that it had dismissed four workers who had accessed the IP addresses and other data of two journalists while seeking to find the source of a leaked article about the firm.

The Montana bill would prohibit the downloading of TikTok in the state, but no penalties would be imposed on users. Under the proposed legislation, any “entity” – app stores or TikTok – that violates the law would be liable for a $10,000 penalty for each violation. A violation would occur each time a user accesses TikTok or is offered the ability to download the app. An additional $10,000 fine would be imposed each day that the violation continues.

The initial version of the bill included internet service providers who would also be liable for any violations. However, this language was removed after a lobbyist for AT&T argued that it was not practical to enforce.

The sources for this piece include an article in Independent.

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