But Ms. Oberwetter said on Wednesday, after the law was signed, that the ban infringed on the First Amendment rights of people in Montana and that the company would keep “working to defend the rights of our users.” She said on Thursday that a federal ban in 2020 did not hold up to legal scrutiny and that Montana did not have a workable plan for enacting the ban.
Ms. Oberwetter also pointed to statements from civil and digital groups raising similar concerns.
Ramya Krishnan, a lawyer at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said the Constitution protected Americans’ right to access social media platforms of their choosing. To justify a ban, Ms. Krishnan said, Montana would have to show that its privacy and security concerns were real and that they could not be addressed in narrower ways.
“I don’t think TikTok has yet committed to suing, but I think it’s likely that it will,” Ms. Krishnan said. “Because this is such a dramatic and unconstitutional incursion into the First Amendment rights of Americans, we are certainly thinking through the possibility of getting involved in some way.”
NetChoice, a trade group that counts TikTok as a member and has sued in the past to block state laws targeting tech companies, also said in a statement that the ban violated the Constitution. Krista Chavez, a spokeswoman for the group, said NetChoice did not “currently have plans to sue” to challenge the law.
Montana’s law came after the federal government and more than two dozen states banned TikTok on government devices in recent months. Lawmakers and intelligence officials have said TikTok, because of its ownership, could put sensitive user data into the hands of the Chinese government. They have also argued that the app could be used to spread propaganda. TikTok says that it has never been asked to provide, nor has it provided, any U.S. user data to the Chinese government.