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Jason Miyares joins 19 Republican AGs in brief backing proposed Montana TikTok ban

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Legislation introduced in Montana would prohibit the use of social media app TikTok in the state unless it separates from its parent Chinese company, ByteDance.

The state’s legislation is nearly identical to the federal legislation that has received bipartisan support from both House Speaker Mike Johnson and President Joe Biden. On March 7, the federal legislation passed 50 to 0 out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The purpose of the bill is not to ban TikTok nor is it aimed at any particular content on TikTok, but rather to protect Montanans and their data by requiring the app to divest from its Chinese parent, ByteDance.

Republican AGs in 19 states, including Virginia, have filed an amicus brief in support of the legislation in Montana.

“Montana has the authority and responsibility to protect its citizens from foreign threats to their data and privacy. Tiktok’s extensive connections to our country’s most dangerous adversary exposes the data of Montanans — and all Americans — to the thugs of the Chinese Communist Party. This is an unacceptable risk to consumers, and Montana is right to confront it,” Attorney General Jason Miyares said. “While Congress works on similar legislation at the federal level, Montana’s authority to protect its citizens must be preserved.”

The attorneys general highlight that TikTok was the second most downloaded mobile application worldwide last year, with 654 million downloads. The United States has the world’s largest TikTok audience, with 150 million users, and is one of the top online platforms for U.S. teens ages 13 to 17. The brief notes that TikTok, like many other social media sites, is addictive and social media addiction has been traced to higher odds of depression and increased anxiety. The brief also lays out TikTok’s extensive connections to the Chinese government.

The following states joined Virginia in the brief: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.