Governor Gianforte Bans TikTok in Montana
Governor prohibits use of apps tied to foreign adversaries on state devices and networks
HELENA, Mont. – To protect Montanans’ personal, private, and sensitive data and information from intelligence gathering by the Chinese Communist Party, Governor Greg Gianforte today banned TikTok from operating in Montana.
The governor today also directed the state’s chief information officer and executive agency directors to prohibit the use of all social media applications tied to foreign adversaries on state equipment and for state business in Montana.
“The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented,” Gov. Gianforte said. “Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Gov. Gianforte signing bill to ban TikTok in Montana
The governor signed Senate Bill 419, making Montana the first state in the nation to ban TikTok and prohibit mobile application stores from offering TikTok within the state. Penalties will be enforced by the Montana Department of Justice. Sen. Shelley Vance, R-Belgrade, sponsored Senate Bill 419.
“I appreciate Attorney General Knudsen and Senator Vance for their partnership on this important measure and for advancing our shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance,” Gov. Gianforte added.
Last month, the governor proposed amendments to the bill to expand the ban to all social media applications that collect and provide users’ personal information or data to a foreign adversary, or a person or entity located within a country designated as a foreign adversary. The legislature gaveled out before lawmakers could consider the governor’s amendments.
In line with his proposed amendments to the bill and building upon his December ban of TikTok for state business, Governor Gianforte today prohibited the use of all social media applications that collect and provide personal information or data to foreign adversaries on government-issued devices, while connected to the state network, or for state business in Montana.
“One of government’s chief responsibilities is to keep its citizens – and their personal, private, sensitive information and data – safe and secure. Foreign adversaries’ collection and use of Montanans’ personal information and data from social media applications infringe on Montanans’ constitutionally guaranteed individual right to privacy,” Gov. Gianforte wrote in a memo to Montana’s Chief Information Officer Kevin Gilbertson and executive agency directors.
The governor continued, “Given concerns about the use of such social media applications on state devices to the security of our state and Montanans’ sensitive data, effective June 1, no executive agency, board, commission, or other executive branch entity, official, or employee of the State of Montana shall download or access social media applications that provide personal information or data to foreign adversaries on government-issued devices or while connected to the state network.”
The memo also prohibits any third-party firms conducting business for or on behalf of the State of Montana from using applications with ties to foreign adversaries.
Gov. Gianforte concluded, “Together, we will defend the State of Montana and its people against threats to our security, privacy, and way of life.”
The governor’s action comes as ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is pushing other applications in the United States, including Lemon8 and CapCut.
The governor’s memo to Chief Information Officer Gilbertson and executive agency directors may be viewed here.