Earlier this week, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill, SB 419, into law that will ban the use of the TikTok social network for all citizens of that US state. While that ban won't go into effect until January 1, 2024, it's already being challenged by a lawsuit that is backed by a group of TikTok content creators.
We filed suit last night challenging Montana’s unconstitutional ban of TikTok, on behalf of 5 TikTok creators. Lead counsel is Ambika Kumar, who represented other creators in securing an injunction of President Trump’s 2020 ban.— Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (@DWTLaw) May 18, 2023
The actual lawsuit was filed by the Davis Wright Tremaine law firm. In a Twitter post late on Thursday, the firm provided a link to the actual court filing. The TikTok creators who are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit state that their use of the social network has created "significant audiences who tune in by the thousands to stream and engage with their content." It added:
Plaintiffs bring this action to preserve their rights to publish, view, and share content through TikTok, to protect access to their TikTok followers, and to avert the irreparable harm they will suffer if SB 419 takes effect.
The law claims that Montana has the right to ban TikTok because it believes that data from the China-owned company can be collected and used by the Chinese government. This new lawsuit claims the state of Montana doesn't have the power to ban TikTok on these grounds:
Montana has no authority to enact laws advancing what it believes should be the United States’ foreign policy or its national security interests, nor may Montana ban an entire forum for communication based on its perceptions that some speech shared through that forum, though protected by the First Amendment, is dangerous. Montana can no more ban its residents from viewing or posting to TikTok than it could ban the Wall Street Journal because of who owns it or the ideas it publishes.
The lawsuit is asking the courts to declare that "SB 419 is invalid under the United States Constitution" but is only asking to be paid "reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees incurred in bringing this action" by Montana. So far, the state has yet to issue a comment on the lawsuit.