1 of 2 | TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew speaks during a House committee hearing on safeguarding data privacy on the social media platform in March. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 1 (UPI) -- A federal judge has blocked Montana's statewide ban of the social media app TikTok, saying the law violated the Constitution's First Amendment.
China-based ByteDance, the owner of short video-driven platform, argued that the Montana ban, signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte, was unconstitutional.
Gianforte and Montana Republicans said the law was created to protect residents from the influence of China's Communist Party. Violators could face fines of up to $10,000.
"We are pleased the judge rejected this unconstitutional law and hundreds of thousands of Montanans can continue to express themselves, earn a living and find community on TikTok," a TikTok representative said.
In May, Montana became the first state to ban TikTok and restrict downloads of the app because of security concerns with China. The law made it illegal for app stores to give any of Montana's 1.1 million residents the option to download it.
The ruling could threaten similar laws from about 30 other states seeking to limit the use of TikTok.
In March, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington 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.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear five cases this term on the constitutional limitations on the government regarding social media platforms.