Montana has officially become the first U.S. state to ban TikTok after Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law on Wednesday. The law is set to take effect in January 2024 and is likely to be challenged.
“To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana,” wrote Gianforte on Twitter.
The governor’s office claims in a news release that “penalties will be enforced by the Montana Department of Justice,” and that anyone in violation of the law is liable to pay $10,000 per violation, and also liable for an additional $10,000 each day the violation continues, according to the text of S.B. 419.
“Governor Gianforte has signed a bill that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state,” said TikTok in a statement provided to CBS News. “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.”
Last month, Montana became the first state to pass a bill banning the app — which raised concerns from technology experts about how realistic expectations were around enforcement.
At a hearing about the bill in March, a representative from TechNet said that app stores “do not have the ability to geofence” apps on a state-by-state basis, making it impossible for the restriction to be enforceable in popular app marketplaces, such as the Apple App Store or the Google Play App Store.
Some have also argued that banning the app may infringe users’ First Amendment rights. “Montanans are indisputably exercising their First Amendment rights when they post and consume content on TikTok,” said Jameel Jaffer, executive director at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, in a statement. “Because Montana can’t establish that the ban is necessary or tailored to any legitimate interest, the law is almost certain to be struck down as unconstitutional.”
In March, Gianforte banned TikTok from government devices in Montana, joining the Biden administration, who also banned the platform from all federal employee devices.
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