New York: Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte on Wednesday signed into law a first-of-its kind bill that makes it illegal for TikTok to operate in the state, setting up a potential legal fight with the company amid a litany of questions over whether the state can even enforce the law.
The new rules in Montana will have more far-reaching effects than TikTok bans already in place on government-issued devices in nearly half the states and the U.S. federal government. There are 200,000 TikTok users in Montana as well as 6,000 businesses that use the video-sharing platform, according to company spokesperson Jamal Brown.
Proponents of the law in Montana claim the Chinese government could harvest U.S. user data from TikTok and use the platform to push pro-Beijing misinformation or messages to the public.
That mirrors arguments made by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. Senate, as well as the heads of the FBI and the CIA, all of whom have said TikTok could pose a national security threat because its Beijing-based parent company ByteDance operates under Chinese law.
Critics have pointed to China’s 2017 national intelligence law that compels companies to cooperate with the country’s governments for state intelligence work. Another Chinese law, implemented in 2014, has similar mandates.