Montana has become the first state in the US to ban Chinese-owned popular video-sharing platform TikTok from personal devices.

The state’s Republican governor Greg Gianforte signed legislation prohibiting mobile application stores from offering the app.

The legislation makes it illegal for app stores to offer TikTok, but does not prevent those who already have the app from using it.

The new law prohibits downloads of TikTok in the state and would fine any “entity” – an app store or TikTok – $10,000 (£8,000) per day each time someone “is offered the ability” to access the social media platform or download the app. The penalties would not apply to users.

The measure is due to take effect from 1 January 2024, and is expected to be challenged legally.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance, has been under intense scrutiny over concerns it could hand over user data to the Chinese government or push pro-Beijing propaganda and misinformation on the platform.

TikTok says none of this has ever happened.

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Is US threatened by TikTok?

“Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party,” said Mr Gianforte after signing the legislation on Wednesday.

Brooke Oberwetter, a TikTok spokesperson, argued the law infringes on people’s First Amendment rights and is unlawful.

“We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana,” she said.

In March, TikTok’s chief executive sought to reassure US Congress that the app’s parent company is not “an agent” of Beijing and poses no risk to national security.

Read more:
TikTok to remove climate change denial videos and direct users to ‘authoritative information’
TikTok fined £12.7m for misusing children’s data

The latest move comes after Montana banned the app on government-owned devices in December.

More than half of US states and the federal government have a similar ban.

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