The new law will bar TikTok from operating the app in the state. App store operators, like Apple and Google, will also be forbidden to make it available for download in the state. TikTok, Apple and Google could face daily fines of $10,000 if they fail to comply.
In its lawsuit, TikTok said Montana lacked the legal authority to impose a ban because it would regulate commerce between states, which is the purview of the federal government. The ban also violates a constitutional prohibition on legislation that targets an individual or specific groups for punishment, the lawsuit contended.
“The TikTok ban singles out the TikTok application for this punishment, notwithstanding that the data allegedly collected by the app is no different in kind than data collected from any number of other sources and that is widely available in the data broker market,” the company said in its complaint.
Critics of the ban believe it will be difficult to enforce even if the courts don’t block it. TikTok users in Montana could still use the app if they disguised their location using virtual private network software, while Montanans living in border towns may get internet access through cell towers in other states. TechNet, a lobbying group representing Apple and Google, has said it is impossible for the app stores to restrict downloads in a single state.
Mr. Knudsen’s office said last week that TikTok could enforce the ban with technology that the online gambling industry already uses to block access to an app from a state where it is illegal.