Republican states urge judge to side with Montana over TikTok ban


Virginia and 17 other GOP-led states filed a brief in support of Montana in a lawsuit it faces from social media giant TikTok.

The lawsuit was filed in May in federal court by TikTok over the Montana’s first-in-the-nation law that will ban the social media platform from operating in the Treasure State at the beginning of next year. It will also bar app stores from allowing it to be downloaded.

TikTok has argued Montana’s ban violates its First Amendment rights, intrudes upon federal authority and unlawfully singles out the company.

The brief, filed Monday, calls Montana’s law “the latest in a storied tradition of consumer protection laws.” It also argues TikTok’s request for a preliminary injunction in the case should be denied. 

“TikTok intentionally engages in deceptive business practices which induce individuals to share sensitive personal information that can be easily accessed by the Chinese Communist Party,” the brief reads.

Concerns about TikTok and its connections to China have gained steam in recent years as the app has surged in popularity among Americans. In March, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about these security concerns.

“Our approach has never been to dismiss or trivialize any of these concerns,” Chew said in his opening statement at the time. “We have addressed them with real action.”

TikTok has a plan, named Project Texas, to route and store American data through Oracle, a Texas-based technology company. The plan aims to assuage the concerns surrounding China’s ability to access American data, but U.S. lawmakers remain skeptical.

“I still believe that the Beijing communist government will still control and have the ability to influence what you do, and so this idea of Project Texas is simply not acceptable,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) told Chew during the committee hearing. 

The Hill has reached out to TikTok.

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