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US judge blocks Montana's ban of TikTok

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-12-01 09:52

LOS ANGELES - A Montana judge ruled on Thursday to block the state's ban on TikTok from going into effect, marking a win for the popular video streaming app.

US District Judge Donald Molloy, who heard lawsuits filed by TikTok and five Montana content creators against the state's ban last month, said in a preliminary injunction that the move "is necessary" because the ban likely violates "their First Amendment, Supremacy Clause, and Commerce Clause claims".

In a 48-page document released by the court, the judge agreed that the law could not take effect from Jan 1, 2024, as it was scheduled until a final determination was made.

According to the 77-year-old judge, the order was made based on the three claims put forth by the plaintiffs, which alleged the Montana ban violates the company's constitutionally protected rights to disseminate and promote third-party speech.

The plaintiffs also claimed the ban is preempted by federal law as national security is a matter controlled by the federal government.

They also said the ban violates the Commerce Clause in the US Constitution which bans state laws that unduly burden interstate and foreign commerce.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed an act on May 17 banning the operation of TikTok throughout the state starting next year, making Montana the first US state to prohibit the use of or access to the social networking platform.

The ban imposes a 10,000-US-dollar penalty for each "discrete violation", defined as any time an individual in Montana accesses TikTok, is offered the ability to access TikTok, or is offered the ability to download TikTok, according to the company.

TikTok filed a lawsuit in the US District Court on May 22. Another lawsuit against Montana was filed by five TikTok content creators, including a businesswoman, a rancher, a student, and a veteran, who all create, publish, view, interact with, and share TikTok videos with "significant audiences".

Molloy heard arguments filed by TikTok and those content creators last month in the US District Court for the District of Montana in Missoula.

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