NEW YORK- Montana has become the first U.S. state to ban the Chinese-developed social media app TikTok, as its Republican governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill into law on Wednesday.
“To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned Tiktok in Montana,’’ Gianforte tweeted after signing the bill.
The new rule prohibits app stores from offering the video-sharing app from Jan. 1, 2024 and prevents TikTok from operating as a business in the state.
For every day the social media platform is still available, app providers would have to pay a 10,000 dollars fine.
Users do not face a fine and those who already have the app on their own device are not affected.
TikTok did not initially respond to the legal change.
Lawsuits challenging the ban based on the right to freedom of expression are expected.
Owned by Chinese company Byte Dance, TikTok has already been banned on government-issued devices in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the U.S., amid cyber security concerns.
The app has more than a billion users worldwide and is widely used in the U.S. and Europe.
It is fueling fears that Chinese authorities and secret services might use the app to collect information from users or to spread influence.
The company has rejected such allegations. (dpa/NAN)