A Montana bill that would ban the use of TikTok on personal devices remains stalled ahead of an end to the state’s 90-day legislative session next week.
The bill, SB419, would prohibit downloads of TikTok in the state and would fine any “entity” — an app store or TikTok — $10,000 per day for each time someone “is offered the ability” to access or download the app. There would not be penalties for users.
Both the Montana Senate and House gave approval to the measure, but online records updated by the Montana Legislature indicate it remains to be signed by House Speaker Matt Regier. Senate President Jason Ellsworth, according to the online documents, signed the bill April 20, more than a week ago.
Reached for comment, Madison Atkinson, communications director for the Montana House Majority, told Fox News Digital the legislative body “had a delay in our flow of legislation this week.”
Responding to the House delay on the measure, the governor’s press secretary told Fox News Gianforte has “yet to receive the bill” and that his office has “prepared amendments to the bill for consideration” ahead of the legislative session’s end. (William Campbell, Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
“The House is committed to getting back to finishing the work for the people of Montana,” she added.
The potential ban on the popular social media app comes amid growing concern from several lawmakers and voters that the app may be used by the Chinese to spy on certain aspects of American life. Like many of his counterparts, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte banned TikTok on state government devices last year, saying at the time the app posed a “significant risk” to sensitive state data.
Responding to the House delay on the measure, the governor’s press secretary told Fox News that Gianforte has “yet to receive the bill” and that his office has “prepared amendments to the bill for consideration” ahead of the legislative session’s end.
“The governor has yet to receive the bill. As its progress appears on LAWS, the bill remains on the speaker’s desk awaiting his signature,” said Kaitlin Price, Gianforte’s press secretary. “Knowing the legislative session is quickly coming to a close and that time is of the essence, the governor’s office prepared amendments to the bill for consideration.
“As we strive to do with all bills which the governor seeks to improve through amendment, the governor wants to achieve consensus and agreement from all relevant parties, including agencies, bill sponsors and legislative leadership.
“We remain optimistic the logjam will clear, and we will receive the bill and consensus around the governor’s amendment, before the legislature gavels out,” she added.
The Montana State Capitol building in Helena. (Education Images/Universal Images Group)
The Montana legislative ban would not take effect until January 2024, but optimism from the governor’s office about the passage and signing of the measure is something that’s shared by Republicans in the state senate.
Referencing amendments that may be suggested by the governor, Kyle Schmauch, the communications director for the Montana Senate majority, told Fox News that Senate Republicans “are confident the bill will become law, whether in its current form or with changes suggested by the governor.”
Earlier this week, it was reported that Gianforte was going to request certain changes to the measure and that it had caused a delay in its passage.
The changes, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, would “broaden the ban from applying specifically to TikTok … and cover social media applications that provide certain data to foreign adversaries, according to the proposed bill langauge.”
TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance, has been under intense scrutiny from both Democrats and Republicans over worries it could hand over user data to the Chinese government or push pro-Beijing propaganda and misinformation on the platform.
The Montana TikTok ban, should it become law, would become void if Congress passes a national measure or if TikTok severs its connections with China. (Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Supporters of a TikTok ban point to two Chinese laws that compel companies in the country to cooperate with the government on state intelligence work. They also cite troubling episodes such as a disclosure by ByteDance in December that it fired four employees who accessed the IP addresses and other data of two journalists while attempting to uncover the source of a leaked report about the company.
The Montana TikTok ban, should it become law, would become void if Congress passes a national measure or if TikTok severs ties with China. The bill was introduced in February, just weeks after a Chinese spy balloon drifted over Montana, but it had been drafted prior to that.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.