The agency says the ban “violates the United States Constitution in several ways,” particularly the First Amendment, which guarantees “freedom of expression,” argues the document consulted by AFP.
Many US lawmakers believe the short, entertaining video site, frequented by 150 million Americans, allows Beijing to spy on and manipulate users. The company has always denied these allegations.
But the Montana legislature passed a text in mid-April ordering mobile application stores (Apple and Google) to stop distributing TikTok starting January 1, 2024, while Congress and the White House are considering plans for similar legislation.
“TikTok exercises editorial discretion, a constitutionally protected right, to disseminate and promote content created by third parties,” the company’s lawyers say.
They also argue that the US government does not have the legal authority to ban the app on national security grounds, which falls under federal jurisdiction.
Complaint also refers to the principle of fairness. “Instead of regulating social networks in general, the law bans TikTok, and for punitive reasons based on speculative concerns about data protection and content control (…) TikTok only”, the lawyers argue.
Democratic representatives have already pointed out during the debates that there are many criticisms of Tiktok’s data privacy, false information or harm to the health of young people (addiction, depression) and other social networks like Instagram.
After Greg Gianforte, the governor of this northwestern American state, signed the law last Wednesday, many voices were raised to accuse Montana of censorship or that it would be technically and legally difficult to use.
“With this ban, Governor Gianforte and the Montana Legislature are suppressing the free speech rights of hundreds of thousands of residents who use this app to express themselves, find information, and promote their small businesses in the name of sentiment. Keegan Medrano, an official at the local branch of the ACLU, a powerful anti-Chinese civil rights group, said Wednesday. He said.
Five TikTok users have filed an appeal in federal court in Montana seeking to overturn the law.
Under the US Constitution’s First Amendment, “TikTok has the right to distribute information and users have the right to receive and distribute information,” University of Florida law professor Lyrisa Litsky told AFP.
He explained that the text therefore had a “strong chance of being deemed unconstitutional”.
The law would be invalid if TikTok were acquired by a US company (or from a country that is not an adversary of the US), and the White House has encouraged TikTok to seek this type of solution if it wants to stay. in the country.
The fate of TikTok in the US has been debated for years. Donald Trump has already tried in vain to block this application.
But recent trade and political tensions with China have fueled animosity among elected officials and public opinion of the Chinese government. The flight of a Chinese spy balloon in February, particularly over Montana, didn’t help matters.
TikTok is already banned from the phones of employees of many companies, from the European Commission to federal agencies in the United States. India completely banned this service in 2020.
NGOs and elected democrats have repeatedly said that requiring users to use VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), which allow access to the Internet from another location, violates the law.
And they won’t be penalized because the law only penalizes app stores.
“The irony is that Montana is an anti-government, anti-regulation capital. Apart from being open to TikTok, what matters is freedom,” Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, commented on Monday.
“Travel aficionado. Incurable bacon specialist. Tv evangelist. Wannabe internet enthusiast. Typical creator.”