TikTok attacks the American state of Montana which has decided to ban it
It is the response of the shepherd to the shepherdess. TikTok, a subsidiary of the Chinese group ByteDance, unsurprisingly filed a complaint on Monday against Montana. The US state enacted…
It is the response of the shepherd to the shepherdess. TikTok, a subsidiary of the Chinese group ByteDance, unsurprisingly filed a complaint on Monday against Montana. The US state enacted legislation last week to ban the app next year . This prohibition “violates the Constitution of the United States in multiple ways”, affirms the company, and in particular the first amendment which guarantees “freedom of expression”.
Many American elected officials believe that the platform of short and addictive videos, frequented by 150 million Americans, allows Beijing to spy on and manipulate users . The company has always denied these accusations. But the Montana parliament adopted a text in mid-April which orders mobile application stores (Apple and Google) to no longer distribute TikTok from January 1, 2024, while Congress and the White House are considering similar bills.
Adverse effects that also concern Instagram
“TikTok exercises editorial judgment, a constitutionally protected right, to distribute and promote content created by third parties,” the company’s attorneys say. They also argue that the US state does not have the legal power to ban the app on national security grounds, a matter which they say is a federal matter.
The complaint also refers to a principle of fairness. “Instead of regulating social networks in general, the law bans TikTok, and only TikTok for punitive reasons […] based on speculative concerns about data security and content moderation,” argue the lawyers.
Democratic representatives had already pointed out, during the debates, that many criticisms made of TikTok, on data privacy, misinformation or harmful effects on the health of the youngest (addiction, depression) also concern other social networks, like instagram .
As soon as Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed the law into law last Wednesday, voices were raised to accuse the northwestern US state of censorship. Or to point out that the text would be difficult to apply, technically and legally.
“With this ban, Governor Gianforte and the Montana legislature are trampling on the free speech of hundreds of thousands of residents who use this app to express themselves, find information and promote their small business, in the name of sentiment. anti-Chinese”, for example defended Keegan Medrano, an official of the local branch of the powerful ociation for the defense of civil rights ACLU.
Also, five TikTok users filed an appeal in federal court in Montana to seek the invalidation of the law.
Under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, “TikTok has the right to distribute information and users have the right to receive information and also to distribute it”, indicates, for her part, Lyrissa Lidsky, law professor at the University of Florida. The text therefore has, according to her, “a strong chance of being considered unconstitutional”.
The shadow of the Chinese spy balloon
On the other hand, the law would be invalidated if TikTok were to be bought by an American company (or a “non-enemy” country of the United States). Moreover, the White House has encouraged the platform to seek this type of solution if it wants to be able to stay in the country…
The fate of TikTok in the United States has been debated for several years. Donald Trump had already tried , in vain, to ban the application. But more recent trade and political tensions with China are fueling elected officials and public animosity toward the Chinese government. The flyby, in February, of a supposed chinese balloon spy especially over Montana, did not help matters.
Proliferation of prohibitions
TikTok is already banned on the smartphones of employees of many organizations, from the European Commission to federal agencies in the United States. India has totally banned service in 2020.
And on the French side? Since March, the Chinese application has been the subject of a senate commission of inquiry . The government is also very attentive to the risks posed by the application, both in terms of influence on behalf of a foreign power and espionage.