Could TikTok be Chinese spyware? Concerns have been raised by U.S. politicians regarding the potential access of TikTok user data by the Chinese government. They fear its potential use for intelligence or propaganda purposes. However, there is currently a lack of evidence substantiating the claim that the Chinese government has obtained such information. FBI Director Christopher Wray has testified before Congress to that end. According to him, if such access were indeed occurring, it might not manifest obvious signs or indications. However, many politicians have shown support for a nationwide ban. Some states, such as Montana, have taken action to ban the app completely.
On the other hand, technology industry group NetChoice has voiced their opposition to banning TikTok. They have emphasized the potential establishment of a dangerous precedent. They argue that such a move would enable the government to prohibit any business it dislikes without the presence of sufficient evidence to support allegations of wrongdoing. Carl Szabo, the vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, underlined that the U.S. Constitution explicitly forbids lawmakers from passing laws that criminalize specific individuals or businesses. He called upon Montana Governor Greg Gianforte to veto the legislation, asserting its clear unconstitutionality. That call was unsuccessful, and the TikTok ban was signed into law and is due to take effect at the beginning of 2024.
TikTok Goes Head To Head With Montana
According to NPR, TikTok has filed a lawsuit against the state of Montana in federal court, aiming to overturn a new law that prohibits the social media app within the state. The company argues in its filing that the bill is censorious and infringes on the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. With over 150 million American users, TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, seeks to protect its business and the hundreds of thousands of users in Montana through this legal challenge. The company expresses confidence in the strength of legal precedents and facts supporting their case.
The Montana state government views TikTok’s association with ByteDance, a Chinese-owned company, as a security concern for its citizens. However, TikTok disputes this characterization, asserting that the state’s extraordinary measures are based on baseless speculation. Governor Greg Gianforte signed Montana’s TikTok ban into law, set to take effect on January 1, 2024. If the ban withstands legal challenges, companies hosting app stores that sell TikTok could face daily fines of $10,000.