Montana lawmakers have voted to ban TikTok from operating in the state and prevent app stores from offering it for download. If the bill becomes law, Montana will become the first US state to ban the popular social media platform. The legislation, which is expected to be signed by Montana’s Republican governor, has implications for Montana residents’ speech and ability to hear speech, rights protected under the US First Amendment. TikTok has condemned the bill, saying it threatens the livelihoods and First Amendment rights of users and creators in Montana. Legal experts have noted that the bill is unconstitutional and may spark a constitutional battle.
There are concerns about the implications of banning TikTok on the principles of a free and open internet. Banning TikTok could set a precedent for other governments to ban apps based on their own national security concerns, potentially leading to fragmentation and censorship of the internet. Additionally, the ban could impact the ability of individuals to access and share information freely, which is a core tenet of democratic societies. Some argue that instead of outright banning the app, measures could be put in place to address any legitimate security concerns while still allowing for the free flow of information. Highlights the potential negative consequences of requiring ISPs, browser makers, and tech companies to develop technical methods to block access to networks and domains. This type of censorship can harm the open internet, which is built on the principle of free expression and the exchange of ideas. When governments or other entities begin to impose restrictions on internet access, it can lead to fragmentation of the internet, limiting people’s ability to access information and engage in discussions across borders. Additionally, the development of technical methods to block access to content can have implications for the security and privacy of users, as it can open up opportunities for surveillance and other forms of online censorship.