Lawmakers in US state of Montana pass bill to ban TikTok

Montana could soon join Afghanistan and India as the only jurisdictions in the world with a complete ban on TikTok, after lawmakers in the US state voted in favor of the move on Friday (April 14).

The state House voted 54-43 in support of the measure, sending the bill to the desk of Gov. Greg Gianforte, who would have to sign the bill for it to become law.

If signed by Gianforte, Montana would become the first US state to enact an outright ban on TikTok, and only the third jurisdiction in the world, after Afghanistan and India, to do so.

Gianforte would not comment on whether he planned to sign the bill or not, the Associated Press reported, but the Republican governor did sign a bill last year that bans TikTok from state government-issued devices.

As noted by the AP, the move in Montana is likely to face legal challenges, but also serves as a ‘testing ground’ for a wider push from US lawmakers to ban the app.

Nearly half of US states plus the federal government have banned TikTok from government-issued devices.

Australia, Canada and a number of European countries, including the UK, Netherlands and France, have also instituted similar bans on government devices.

The moves stem from concerns that the app may have handed over users’ data to the Chinese government.

Although TikTok has denied doing so, many lawmakers point to Chinese regulations that require China-based technology companies – including TikTok parent company Bytedance – to cooperate with government national security operations.

“We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach.”


These concerns have been growing among many US lawmakers as the relationship between Beijing and Washington becomes increasingly tense.

However, TikTok is framing the issue as one of freedom of speech, and in a statement issued to multiple media sources, it vowed to fight the Montana bill.

“The bill’s champions have admitted that they have no feasible plan for operationalizing this attempt to censor American voices and that the bill’s constitutionality will be decided by the courts,” TikTok said.

“We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach.”

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was grilled relentlessly by lawmakers at a four-and-a-half-hour-long US congressional hearing in March. It was a rare moment of bipartisan agreement, with both Democratic and Republican lawmakers coming down hard on the CEO over TikTok’s handling of US user data.

Chew conceded that engineers at Bytedance in China do indeed have access to some US user data, but pointed to “Project Texas,” an initiative by TikTok that would segregate US users’ data onto servers run by Oracle in Texas. Lawmakers at the hearing didn’t appear convinced by this project.

A bipartisan group of congresspeople, led by Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, last month introduced the RESTRICT Act, which is being sold as a bill to ban TikTok nationwide.

However, the bill would give the US Secretary of Commerce the power to ban any communications technology that is connected to a “foreign adversary” and poses an “undue and unacceptable risk” to the national security of the US.

Critics of this bill – also a bipartisan group – have argued that the bill is overly broad, and, depending on how it’s interpreted, could be used to ban any communications app used in the US.

As of last year, TikTok had 150m users in the US, or about 45% of the population, up from around 100m users in 2020.

Music is a core part of the TikTok experience, with many influencers using recorded music to drive views.

Last year, Bloomberg News reported that the big three labels – Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group – had been negotiating “all year” with Tikok for a share of its advertising revenues.

Earlier this year, TikTok appeared to up the stakes in its talks with record labels, when some users in Australia found they could no longer use label-licensed music in their videos.

According to MBW’s sources, TikTok wass hoping to prove that major-label music is not a key component of the success of TikTok videos – which would give the app a stronger hand in negotiating with the labels.

In March 2022, TikTok launched its own music promotion and distribution platform, SoundOn.The app lets artists upload their music directly to TikTok, as well as to other platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and Instagram.

TikTok describes the SoundOn platform as “an all-in-one platform for music marketing and distribution” which is meant “to empower new and undiscovered artists.”

The platform is now live in the US, UK, Australia, Brazil and Indonesia.Music Business Worldwide