Last Update: April 15, 2023, 03:59 AM IST
Lawmakers in the western US state of Montana voted on Friday to ban TikTok outright, launching a legal battle over allegations that the popular app is a tool of the Chinese Communist Party.
The proposed legislation, a first by a US state, was passed by 54 votes for and 43 against and would serve as a legal test for a national ban of the Chinese-owned platform, something that lawmakers in Washington are increasingly calling for. Are.
If signed into law by the governor of Montana, the bill would be fiercely and unprecedentedly fought by TikTok in state and US courts.
Prior to the vote, a spokeswoman for TikTok said the bill’s constitutionality “will ultimately be decided by the courts.”
“We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government encroachment,” the spokesperson said.
Under the proposed law, Apple and Google would have to remove TikTok from their app stores and the companies would be fined $10,000 a day for violations.
The proposed ban would take effect in 2024, but would face some legal challenges around the United States given its unprecedented nature.
The bill is the latest skirmish in a dispute between TikTok and several Western governments, with the app already banned on government equipment in the US, Canada and several countries in Europe.
And despite its immense popularity, TikTok also faces an ultimatum by the White House to break away from its Chinese owners or stop operating in the US.
The app is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance and has been accused by a wide swath of US politicians of being under the patronage of the Chinese government and a tool of espionage by Beijing, which the company vehemently denies.
While introducing the bill on Thursday, Montana state representative Brandon Leer said the Chinese Communist Party is “hiding behind TikTok where they can spy on Americans.”
– ‘how you do it?’ ,
Legal analysts and critics say the bill is largely symbolic and that moving through such a draconian measure is nearly impossible at the local level.
“How they will actually implement this bill is very unclear,” said Andrew Selepak, professor of social media at the University of Florida.
The bill “appears to be more of a statement bill than practical,” he said.
Free speech advocates opposed the law.
“Passing this legislation would flout the First Amendment and trample on Montanars’ constitutional right to free speech,” the ACLU and other unions said in a letter to Montana lawmakers.
Montana’s clout over TikTok comes as the app faces other proposals for national legislation – including a bill that could give the White House massive new powers to oversee Chinese tech companies.
Last month, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced five hours of grueling questioning from belligerent US lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle over the app’s ties to China and its dangers to teenagers.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)