HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana lawmakers gave final passage Friday to a bill banning the social media app TikTok from operating in the state, a move that's bound to face legal challenges but also serve as a testing ground for the TikTok-free America many national lawmakers have envisioned.
The measure now goes to Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte for his consideration.
The state House voted 54-43 to pass the bill, which goes further than prohibitions in place in nearly half the states and the U.S. federal government that prohibit TikTok on government devices. Montana already bans the app on state-owned devices.
TikTok spokesprson Brooke Oberwetter said in a statement that “We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach.”
The bill's supporters “have admitted that they have no feasible plan for operationalizing this attempt to censor American voices and that the bill’s constitutionality will be decided by the courts,” Oberwetter said.
TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance, has been under intense scrutiny over concerns it could hand over user data to the Chinese government or push pro-Beijing propaganda and misinformation on the platform. Leaders at the FBI, CIA and numerous lawmakers of both parties have raised those concerns but have not presented any evidence that it has happened.
Supporters of a ban point to two Chinese laws that compel companies in the country to cooperate with the government on state intelligence work.
TikTok has said its servers containing information on U.S. users are in Texas.