In a strong show of support for the popular video-sharing app TikTok, two major tech groups, NetChoice, and Chamber of Progress, have come forward to back TikTok in its legal battle against the state of Montana. The lawsuit aims to block the enforcement of a state ban on the use of the app.
TikTok, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has been at the center of controversy in the United States, facing allegations of data privacy concerns and possible Chinese government influence. Despite these challenges, TikTok remains immensely popular, with more than 150 million American users.
The trade association NetChoice, representing major tech platforms, and the tech-industry coalition, Chamber of Progress, have jointly filed a court motion stating that Montana’s ban on TikTok usage is an infringement on the fundamental principles of the internet. According to the filing, the ban “ignores and undermines the structure, design, and purpose of the internet.” Both groups argue that such an action would create a fragmented internet, with information available to users being regionally divided based on the whims and preferences of local politicians.
TikTok’s lawsuit, filed in May, contends that the Montana state ban violates the First Amendment rights of the company and its users. The company has consistently maintained that it has not shared, nor will it share, any U.S. user data with the Chinese government. TikTok has also emphasized the measures taken to protect the privacy and security of its users.
The court hearing for TikTok’s request for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for October 12. If the ban is allowed to proceed, TikTok could face significant fines, with Montana imposing penalties of $10,000 for each violation. Notably, the law does not target individual TikTok users with fines.
Montana’s TikTok user base is estimated to be substantial, with approximately 380,000 people, representing more than a third of the state’s total population of 1.1 million, using the video-sharing service.
TikTok’s legal battle against Montana is not the first time the app has faced adversity in the United States. In 2020, former President Donald Trump attempted to block new downloads of TikTok, citing national security concerns. However, a series of court decisions halted the ban from taking effect.
The issue of TikTok’s potential risks related to data privacy and national security has sparked a broader debate in the United States. Lawmakers have raised concerns over the app’s data practices, and there have been calls for a nationwide ban. TikTok, on the other hand, has consistently maintained its commitment to user privacy and data protection.
As the October 12 court hearing approaches, the tech industry’s support for TikTok underscores the significance of this legal battle, with potential implications for the future of internet governance and the broader landscape of data privacy and user rights. The outcome of the lawsuit will not only impact TikTok but could also set a precedent for the treatment of other tech platforms and apps facing similar challenges in the future.