Internet: US judge puts TikTok ban in Montana on hold

In May, the US state of Montana decided that Tiktok would be banned from next year. But a court has now suspended these plans.

The first ban on the popular video app TikTok in a US state has been put on hold by a court. The judge found an injunction against the corresponding Montana state law justified. The law passed in May most likely violates the US Constitution, he explained his decision on Thursday.

This means that the law cannot come into force until the lawsuits against it have been decided. The bill, signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte, would ban download platforms from offering the app from January 1, 2024. The reason given was that this was intended to protect personal data of Montana residents from the Chinese Communist Party. TikTok users and the company took the law to court.

Judge Donald Molloy sees a high probability that they will prevail on the argument that a ban on the app violates the constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech. A few years ago, then US President Donald Trump’s action against TikTok failed for similar reasons.

TikTok is the only successful online platform in the West that does not come from the USA. There are concerns, especially in the USA, but also in Europe, that the app could be misused by Chinese authorities to collect information about users. Governments of several countries and the EU Commission banned the use of TikTok on work cell phones.

TikTok always rejects concerns and emphasizes that it does not see itself as a subsidiary of a Chinese company. Bytedance is 60 percent owned by Western investors. The company headquarters are on the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. Critics counter that the Chinese founders, with a share of 20 percent, maintained control thanks to higher voting rights and that Bytedance has a large headquarters in Beijing.