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United States: Montana is on the verge of passing a law to ban TikTok

Montana is set to approve legislation on Friday to ban TikTok, which has been difficult to implement but adds to already strong pressure in the US against the popular platform from Chinese group ByteDance.

The Republican northwest US state’s House of Representatives voted 60 to 39 on Thursday in favor of SB419, a bill that would “ban TikTok in Montana.”

A final vote is scheduled for Friday — the Senate already approved the text in March. Once approved by the Governor, it will take effect on January 1, 2024.

“It’s time to stand up to the Chinese and ban TikTok,” Brandon Lehr launched after accusing China of dangerous use of “our data and our intellectual property” and “health and safety, especially of young people.” .

From Montana to the White House, many elected Democrats and Republicans have accused the Chinese government of using the short and entertaining videos to spy on and manipulate users.

The US Congress is drafting bills to expel it from the country.

TikTok, which has always denied the allegations, tried unsuccessfully for years to convince the authorities.

After the Senate’s vote, TikTok’s director of operations, Vanessa Pappas, responded that “this law is a shocking violation of Montanans’ rights to freedom of expression” and sets a “disastrous precedent.” March.

“It will exclude Montana from the community of 150 million people in the United States,” he asserted.

Pursuit of Courts

According to a spokesperson for the application contacted Thursday, the authors of the legislation “admit themselves that there is no realistic plan to implement this effort to censor American Voices.”

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“The constitutionality of this text will be decided in the courts. “We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana,” he added.

The law prohibits the Google (Android) and Apple (iOS) app stores from distributing TikTok to users in Montana.

Apple and Google did not immediately respond to AFP’s requests.

The text mentions penalties for infringing companies, but not for users. It also stated that the law would be void if TikTok was purchased by the company from a country “not considered an enemy” of the United States.

Several independent experts noted that the law would almost certainly be challenged in court and was unlikely to be implemented.

“It raises a lot of thorny questions,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

“Montanas want as little regulation as possible,” he said. “We certainly couldn’t take their guns away from them.”

“Anti-Chinese Prejudice”

“SB419 fully embodies the absurdity and bigotry of the Montana Legislature,” Keegan Medrano, an official at the local branch of the powerful civil rights group ACLU, tweeted Wednesday.

“The TikTok ban is unconstitutional based on freedom of speech, is impractical because it is driven by Internet service providers and VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), and has anti-Chinese biases.”

In late March, the application’s leader, Sho Shiv, faced attacks from elected officials of a US congressional committee during an hours-long hearing.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre spoke following “ongoing negotiations with ByteDance” and noted that the government “strongly supports” the RESTRICT Act, one of the bills that would ban TikTok.

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If ByteDance doesn’t find an American buyer for the platform in “three to six months,” then “TikTok will be banned by the end of the year,” Dan Yves, an analyst at Weptush Securities, said.

The service has already been banned on the smartphones of civil servants and employees of a number of organizations, from the European Commission to the Canadian, British and US governments.