Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has ordered state’s Chief Information Officer Kevin Gilbertson to ban any app that provides personal data to foreign adversaries from the state network, making the move after banning TikTok across the state.
Gianforte, who officially moved to ban TikTok this week, identified the app as just one “tied to foreign adversaries.” Because of that, Gianforte has also directed the state’s Chief Information Officer Kevin Gilbertson to “ban any application that provides personal information or data to foreign adversaries from the state network.”
“The risk of foreign adversaries obtaining Montanans’ personal, private, sensitive information and data, however, is not limited to TikTok alone,” Gianforte’s letter reads, explaining that many social media apps are also connected or based in countries deemed foreign adversaries by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Those include CapCut and Lemon8, which like TikTok, are also under the China-based company ByteDance Ltd. The letter also lists Telegram Messenger founded in Russia and WeChat and Temu, whose respective parent companies are also headquartered in China.
The letter reads in part:
Given concerns about the use of such social media applications on state devices to the security our state and Montanans’ sensitive data, effective June 1, 2023, no executive agency, board, commission, or other executive branch entity, official, or employee of the State of Montana shall download or access social media applications that provide personal information or data to foreign adversaries on government-issued devices too while connected to the state network. Additionally, any third-party firms conducting business for on behalf of the State of Montana shall not use these applications.
According to the letter, the ban applies to “all state-issued cell phones, laptops tablets, desktop computers, and other devices which connect to the internet.”
“If any applications which provide information and data to foreign adversaries are currently downloaded on any device described above, they must be immediately removed,” the letter reads, outlining the steps that need to be taken for exceptions related to enabling law enforcement and “essential government uses.”
TikTok is just one app tied to foreign adversaries. Today I directed the state’s Chief Information Officer to ban any application that provides personal information or data to foreign adversaries from the state network. pic.twitter.com/92Im6D9Jgx— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) May 17, 2023
That move comes on the heels of the governor more broadly banning TikTok in the state.
“The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented,” Gianforte said in a statement.
“Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party,” he added.
To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana.— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) May 17, 2023
While TikTok was already banned from federal and state agencies within the state — an action several states have moved to take– Senate Bill 419 takes it a step further, essentially banning app stores from offering TikTok to personal devices across the state.
The legislation clearly states, “Tiktok may not operate within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana.” The bill punishes the “entity” — mobile app stores or TikTok itself — for violations. They could face up to $10,000 in fines.
There are few exceptions, however, as the fines and penalties do not extend to users of the app or “law enforcement activities, national security interests and activities, security research activities, or essential government uses permitted by the governor on the information technology system of the state.”
KTVH put it this way: “The law only impacts the distribution of the app, it does not have any penalties for TikTok users.”
The TikTok ban goes into effect January 1, 2024.