By Bliss Okperan
A federal judge has temporarily blocked a ban on TikTok set to come into effect next year in Montana, stating that the popular video-sharing app was likely to win its pending legal challenge.
The US District Court Judge, Donald Molly, placed the injunction on the ban on Thursday, until the case originally filed by TikTok in May, has been ruled on its merits.
During the ruling, he said, “The current record leaves little doubt that Montana’s legislature and attorney general were more interested in targeting China’s ostensible role in TikTok than they with protecting Montana consumers.”
However, the judge deemed it likely that TikTok and its users would win, since it appeared the Montana law not only violates free speech rights but runs counter to the fact that foreign policy matters are the exclusive domain of the federal government.
Recall that the app is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance and has been accused by a wide swathe of US politicians of being under Beijing’s tutelage, something the company furiously denies.
Montana’s law says the TikTok ban will become void if the app is acquired by a company incorporated in a country not designated by the United States as a foreign adversary.
The Prohibition was signed into law by Republican Governor Greg Gianforte and is seen as a legal test for a national ban of the Chinese-owned platform, something lawmakers in Washington are increasingly calling for.
According to TikTok, the unprecedented ban violated constitutionally protected rights of “Free Speech”.
The ban would make it a violation each time “a user accesses TikTok, is offered the ability to access TikTok, or is offered the ability to download TikTok.”
Note that, each violation is punishable by a $10,000 fine every day it takes place, while abiding by the law, Apple and Google will have to remove TikTok from their app stores.