Montana lawmakers vote to ban TikTok in the state
FILE PHOTO: A person holds a smartphone as Tik Tok logo is displayed behind in this picture illustration taken November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
By Sheila Dang
(Reuters) -Montana lawmakers on Friday passed a bill to ban popular short-form video app TikTok from operating in the state, the latest threat to the Chinese-owned app’s existence in the U.S.
The bill, known as SB 419, would prohibit mobile app stores from offering TikTok for download to users in Montana. The Montana House voted 54-43 to approve the ban.
TikTok as well as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), which operate mobile app stores, would face fines if they violate the ban, should the bill become law.
It is not clear how the state would enforce the ban.
The bill now heads to Montana Governor Greg Gianforte for signing.
“The governor will carefully consider any bill the legislature sends to his desk,” said a spokesperson for the Montana governor’s office.
TikTok said in a statement: “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, which is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, is facing growing calls from some U.S. lawmakers to ban the app nationwide over concerns about potential Chinese government influence over the platform.
Last month, a congressional committee grilled TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew about whether the Chinese government could access user data or influence what Americans see on the app.
TikTok has repeatedly denied that it has ever shared data with the Chinese government and has said the company would not do so if asked.
The company is working on an initiative called Project Texas, which creates a standalone entity to store American user data in the U.S. on servers operated by U.S. tech company Oracle (NYSE:ORCL).