1 of 2 | Montana has become the first state to ban TikTok after Gov. Greg Gianforte signed legislation into law Wednesday to restrict downloads of the social media app over security concerns with China. File photo by Alex Plavevski/EPA-EFE
May 17 (UPI) -- Montana has become the first state to ban TikTok after Gov. Greg Gianforte signed legislation into law Wednesday to restrict downloads of the social media app because of security concerns with China.
Montana's new law, which passed the legislature last month, makes it illegal for TikTok to operate in the state. It also makes it illegal for app stores to give any of Montana's 1.1 million residents the option to download the popular app. App stores found violating the ban could be fined $10,000 a day.
"To protect Montanan's personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana," Gianforte tweeted Wednesday.
"The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented," the Republican governor added in a statement.
"Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans' private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party."
The ban, which will take effect on Jan. 1, is expected to face challenges as critics call it "unlawful" and a violation of free speech.
"We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana," TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said Wednesday in a statement.
In March, TikTok's chief executive officer Shou Zi Chew failed to persuade congressional leaders, during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., that U.S. consumer information would not end up in the hands of Chinese leaders.
U.S. federal agencies were ordered in February to remove TikTok from all government devices after the Biden administration gave them 30 days to purge the app.
Gianforte also sent a directive Wednesday to ban the app, owned by Chinese Internet company ByteDance, on all government-issued devices or while connected to state Internet networks.