Montana appealing ruling that blocked state from barring TikTok use

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Montana said on Tuesday it was appealing a decision by a U.S. judge in November to block Montana’s first-of-its kind state ban on the use of short-video sharing app TikTok.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen filed a notice that the state is appealing the ruling to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Montana’s ban had been set to take effect Jan. 1 but U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy on Nov. 30 issued a preliminary injunction to block the ban on the Chinese-owned app, saying Montana’s law “violates the Constitution in more ways than one” and “oversteps state power.”

TikTok and Knudsen’s office did not immediately comment. Molloy had previously said preliminary pretrial statements were due by Jan. 16.

TikTok users in Montana also had filed suit last year to block the ban approved by the state legislature that cited concerns about the personal data of Montana users and potential Chinese spying.

TikTok said in earlier court filings it “has not shared, and would not share, U.S. user data with the Chinese government, and has taken substantial measures to protect the privacy and security of TikTok users.”

Molloy said Montana sought to exercise foreign policy authority held by the federal government and the state’s action was too sweeping.

TikTok has faced efforts by some in Congress to ban the app or give the Biden administration powers to impose restrictions or bar foreign-owned apps, but those efforts have stalled.

Many states and the U.S. government have barred TikTok on government-owned devices, but only Montana has sought to completely bar the app’s use.

Former President Donald Trump in 2020 sought to bar new downloads of TikTok and Chinese-owned WeChat, but a series of court decisions blocked the effective ban from taking effect.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sandra Maler and Stephen Coates)