Who’s Fighting the Montana TikTok Ban?
The ink is barely dry on Governor Greg Gianforte's signature on a new law that bans the distribution and use of the TikTok app in Montana, and already the new rules are being challenged in U.S. District Court.
That challenge is coming from mothers, students, ranchers, and business owners from in-state.
Yet while the suit filed the same day Gianforte signs the law raises significant constitutional and free speech questions and is in federal court, it only represents a complaint on behalf of Montana TikTok users. It doesn't represent broader business issues that may still be raised by ByteDance, the developer of TikTok, or tech giants like Google and Apple that distribute the app through their stores.
Still, the suit filed by attorneys with the prominent Missoula law firm of Boone Karlberg does give a more focused indication of where some of the legal arguments against the Montana law will fall. That includes the key argument of whether a state law like S.B. 419 is "unconstitutional and preempted by federal law."
Several Montana TikTok users are named in the suit
Five different TikTok users from different Montana cities are named in the suit. They include:
-Samantha Alario, a mother who lives in Missoula and uses the app to promote her "sustainable swimwear business."
-Heather DiRocco, a former Marine Corps Sergeant who is a wife and mother living in Bozeman who depends on TikTok to reach out to "more than 200,000 followers" connecting with her fellow veterans on issues like mental health, comedy, and tips. Attorneys say her account creates "a substantial portion of her income."
-Carly Ann Goddard of Custer, who uses TikTok to share content about ranch life, parenting, recipes, home decor and style. Attorneys say the app has allowed her to "triple her family's income" by reaching 95,000 followers.
-Student Alice Held is from Montana and uses the app to share content about "her outdoor adventures" with more than 215,000 followers.
-Dale Stout lives in Missoula, who makes income sharing "humorous videos" while making "friends" and connecting "with a community."
In the 44-page suit, filed against Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, the attorneys say the "law prevents Plaintiffs and all Montanans from engaging in protected speech" and that the law is "substantially overbroad." They claim the ban impacts all Montana TikTok users to "prevent the speculative and unsubstantiated possibility that the Chinese government might direct TikTok, Inc., to spy on some Montana users."