In a shocking turn of events, Montana is now the first US state to ban TikTok. Teens and adults alike are devastated by the news as the Chinese app has become a central force in the lives of many people. From influencers to small businesses, TikTok has helped many, and the ban would potentially risk the livelihoods of these people.
A legal battle against the ban is expected from TikTok, and users are praying it churns out a positive result for them. Many fear the Montana bill will inspire a nationwide ban on the app.
How the government plans to ban the app is also an issue since it will take literal seconds for teens to use a VPN and bypass restrictions.
Let’s get a better view of the bill that bans TikTok and how it will affect you and thousands of other users.
Why Has Montana Banned TikTok?
Montana’s Governor Greg Gianforte has signed a bill to ban TikTok in the US state. According to Gianforte, the move was made “to protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party.”
The TikTok ban in Montana takes effect in January 2024, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of people and hundreds of businesses.
TikTok has been the target of security concerns due to its ownership by ByteDance, a Chinese company. In fact, federal employees and state employees have faced its ban in 34 out of 50 US states as of April 2023.
While the ban for Government employees is far stricter, as they have to delete the app entirely, residents of Montana have no such obligation. Instead, it is on app stores to regulate the availability of TikTok in Montana.
How Will Montana Enforce TikTok Ban?
According to the new TokTok banning bill in Montana, a $10,000 fine will be levied on TikTok, Google, and Apple for every day that the app is available for download in the state.
The ban will be enforced by government officials who will monitor the app’s availability in app stores. Relevant companies must identify where users reside and deny them access to TikTok accordingly.
While existing users will not be affected immediately, they cannot install new updates on the app starting January 2024, eventually leading to the app shutting down.
Neither Apple nor Google have not commented on the technical aspects of the decision. However, a representative of TechNet, a trade group funded by both giants, had commented in March that app stores “do not have the ability to geofence on a state-by-state basis. It would thus be impossible for our members to prevent the app from being downloaded specifically in the state of Montana.”
This is likely because of the fact that app stores allow accessibility at a countrywide level and not on a state-by-state basis. The bill will force app stores to change their systems which will probably need a ton of coding. It will force companies to customize their service at a more granular level.
Monitoring location data from users more than they already are will also lead to infringing on privacy, the same thing that the bill aims to remove.
Will You Be Penalized for Using TikTok in Montana?
No, you will not be penalized if you use TikTok in Montana. The bill that bans the app focuses more on app stores to force them not to offer TikTok in the state. However, preexisting users can continue to use TikTok.
Google and Apple app stores will no longer offer TikTok within the state, so the app will stop getting new users in Montana. Old accounts will also start facing issues as the app will inevitably need updates that won’t be available to download, leading to the app getting shut down.
There are several loopholes in Montana’s ban on TikTok. Users can use their out-of-state road trips or VPN services to disguise their residency and download TikTok or update the app.
Teens in Montana are likely to install a VPN to bypass the law. Since there are no penalties on users, they can do it without worrying about anyone spying on them.
If someone lives near the state border and their phone connects with a tower inside Montana, it might make them look like a resident of the state even when they are not. This will also affect several individuals who should not be affected by the ban.
TikTok is expected to fight the bill banning the app in Montana in court. Many are citing that the ban is an infringement on the First Amendment. The government’s decision to ban a communication app will definitely be met with heat.
The threats posed by TikTok have to be extremely serious to guarantee a state-wide ban. ACLU stated, “But there’s no public evidence of harm that would meet the high bar set by the US and Montana Constitutions, and a total ban would not be the only option for addressing such harm if it did exist.”
TikTok’s risk is still being determined and needs to be adequately explained by the government. Users are afraid that this ban will eventually encourage the government to ban other social media sites as well.
Do you think the ban on TikTok will end with just one single move? Or do you expect resistance? Let us know your views on whether the government is securing the residents’ privacy or restricting them.