TikTok has initiated a lawsuit to prevent the US state of Montana from implementing a ban restricting its residents from accessing the popular social media platform.
The legal action was taken on Monday, following Montana’s unprecedented move last week to impose a widespread ban on the video-sharing app, which a Chinese corporation owns.
In its official statement, TikTok claimed the ban violated the US free speech rights.
Over recent years, TikTok has faced increasing scrutiny from global authorities due to worries about potential data sharing with the Chinese government.
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Montana, aims to reverse what TikTok calls the “unlawful” ban.
A spokesperson stated, “We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana. We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts.”
The lawsuit put forth by TikTok contends that the ban infringes upon the constitutional First Amendment right of free speech, as it “unconstitutionally shuts down the forum for speech for all speakers on the app.”
The ban, set to be enacted in January 2024, will outlaw app stores from offering TikTok but will not affect individuals who already have the app installed.
Last December, Montana, which has a population of slightly over a million population, prohibited using the app on government devices.
TikTok reports having 150 million American users. Despite its recent user base growth, the app remains most popular among teenagers and individuals in their 20s.
However, there is widespread apprehension within the US political landscape about the potential national security risks posed by TikTok.
ByteDance, a Chinese corporation, owns the social media platform and has consistently denied being under the Chinese government’s control.
In the lawsuit, TikTok also argues that Montana has exceeded its authority by interfering in matters concerning user data and national security, which are typically within the federal government’s jurisdiction.
The ban, TikTok says, is grounded in “unfounded speculation” that the Chinese government could gain access to TikTok’s data.
Attorneys for the Montana government have previously indicated they anticipated legal challenges and are prepared to uphold the ban in court.