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Montana’s TikTok ban won’t take effect following judge’s ruling

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(The Center Square) – Montana’s ban on the social media app TikTok won’t take effect as planned after a federal judge this week blocked the new law as a legal challenge plays out in the courts.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy issued a preliminary injunction for Montana’s Senate Bill 419, which was set to take effect on Jan. 1.

The plaintiff in the case, Samantha Alario, operates a business in Montana and uses TikTok to sell swimwear over the internet. According to her lawsuit, Alario earns approximately 10% to 30% of her annual income through the TikTok app.

“SB 419 bans TikTok outright and, in doing so, it limits constitutionally protected First Amendment speech,” Molloy wrote in the injunction.

Governor Greg Gianforte signed the ban into law in May after lawmakers expressed concerns about the company’s Chinese Communist Party links and Montanans’ private data.

“The Chinese Communist Party is using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented,” the governor said at the bill signing. “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 was the first of its kind in the U.S. Regardless, Molloy was not persuaded by the state’s argument.

“Despite the State’s attempt to defend SB 419 as a consumer protection bill, the current record leaves little doubt that Montana’s legislature and Attorney General were more interested in targeting China’s ostensible role in TikTok than with protecting Montana consumers,” Molloy wrote.

Attorney General Austin Knudsen’s office did not immediately return The Center Square’s request for comment.

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