ACLU and EFF Applaud Ruling Halting Montana TikTok Ban

Affiliate: ACLU of Montana
November 30, 2023 8:42 pm

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MISSOULA, Mont. — The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Montana, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) applaud a ruling by the federal district court in Montana that blocks SB 419, Montana’s TikTok ban, from going into effect on January 1, 2024. The ruling in favor of four TikTok creators and the company marks a significant victory for the people of Montana and their First Amendment protections, preserving their access to TikTok as a vital platform for communication, information, and self-expression.

“Montana’s law violates the First Amendment, plain and simple, and the court was right to halt it,” said Patrick Toomey, deputy director of ACLU’s National Security Project. “The Constitution imposes an extraordinarily high bar on this kind of mass censorship.”

The ACLU, ACLU of Montana, and EFF filed an amicus brief urging the court to see this law for what it is: a sweeping ban on free expression that triggers the most exacting scrutiny under the First Amendment. Today’s decision ensures that TikTok will continue to play an important and significant role for communities of color, including Indigenous communities in Montana, who use the platform to foster solidarity online and to highlight issues vital to them. And it reaffirms the unique ways in which Montanans rely on TikTok to communicate and interact with people around the country and the world every day.

“With this ban, Governor Gianforte and the Montana legislature tried to trample on the free speech of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves, gather information, and run their small business in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment,” said Alex Rate, legal director at the ACLU of Montana. “We will never trade our First Amendment rights for cheap political points.”

The district court’s First Amendment ruling has important implications for other draconian efforts to ban TikTok around the country, including proposals in Congress. Proposed federal bills like the RESTRICT Act will run headlong into the same constitutional obstacles.

“Many Montanans use TikTok to communicate with local and global audiences. We are pleased that a federal judge has blocked the state from violating their rights by banning this speech platform,” said David Greene, EFF’s Civil Liberties Director.

Today’s decision is available here:

A coalition letter opposing Montana’s TikTok ban is available here:

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