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TikTok creators sue Montana over app ban


(CNN) A group of TikTok users has sued to overturn Montana’s new statewide ban on blocking the app, claiming the law signed this week by Gov. Greg Gianforte violates the First Amendment.

The complaint, filed Wednesday night in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana — hours after the governor’s signature — compares TikTok to other types of media by arguing that the state lacks authority to prevent Montanans from accessing and creating legal speech.

“Montana can no more ban its residents from viewing or posting to TikTok than it could ban the Wall Street Journal because of who owns it or the ideas it publishes,” said the complaint, filed by five TikTok creators, including a small swimwear business, a rancher and a former Marine sergeant.

The lawsuit marks what could be the first challenge to a controversial ban that goes far beyond restrictions Montana and other states have already enacted to ban TikTok on official government entities. The new ban attempts to ban TikTok from operating in the state and to block downloads of TikTok on personal devices, but would not punish individuals for using TikTok. The ban is currently set to take effect in January.

A spokesman for Gianforte did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Emily Flower, a spokeswoman for Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, said in a statement that “we expected a legal challenge and are fully prepared to defend the law.”

In addition to the First Amendment claims, the lawsuit alleges that Montana’s ban deprives TikTok users of many other rights without due process, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

It also argues that the ban is unconstitutional in conflict with federal authority to set foreign policy and oversee interstate commerce. And it claims the ban undercuts the federal government’s powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

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