According to the lawsuit, the five plaintiffs, all Montana residents, include a designer of sustainable swimwear who uses TikTok to promote her company and engage with customers; a former US Marine Corps sergeant who uses TikTok to connect with other veterans; a rancher who uses TikTok to share content about her outdoor adventures; a student who is studying applied human physiology and shares content about her outdoor adventures; and a man who shares humorous videos on TikTok and earns revenue from the content he posts.
On Wednesday, following the governor’s signing of the law, Knudsen, who, like Gianforte, is a Republican, called TikTok “a Chinese Communist Party spying tool that poses a threat to every Montanan”.
TikTok on Wednesday, shortly after the governor signed the bill, said Montana’s ban “infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok,” and said it will “continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.”
Gianforte said the bill will further “our shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance.”
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 suit is assigned to Judge Donald Molloy, who was appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1995.
Montana, which has a population of just over 1 million people, said TikTok could face fines for each violation and additional fines of US$10,000 per day if it violates the ban.
An attempt by former President Donald Trump to ban new downloads of TikTok and WeChat through a Commerce Department order in 2020 was blocked by multiple courts and never took effect.