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Montana's TikTok ban has been blocked by a federal judge

How will Montana enforce a TikTok ban?
Montana is banning TikTok, but how does the state plan to enforce it? 04:07

Montana's TikTok ban, which was originally signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte in May, was blocked by a federal judge on Thursday. The ban, the first such statewide legislation restricting use of the video platform, was set to begin on January 1.

S.B. 419 "oversteps state power and infringes on the Constitutional rights of users and businesses," Judge Donald Molloy wrote in the preliminary injunction.

"We are pleased the judge rejected this unconstitutional law and hundreds of thousands of Montanans can continue to express themselves, earn a living, and find community on TikTok," a TikTok spokesperson told CBS News.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said the judge "indicated several times that the analysis could change as the case proceeds and the State has the opportunity to present a full factual record," and noted this is a "preliminary matter."

"We look forward to presenting the complete legal argument to defend the law that protects Montanans from the Chinese Communist Party obtaining and using their data," Knudsen added.

TikTok and Montana
A crossed-out TikTok logo is seen on a smartphone screen in front of a flag of the state of Montana. Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

TikTok has been the ongoing subject of debate at the federal and state levels over privacy concerns related to the app's ownership by China-based company ByteDance.

Though all Chinese companies have ties to the Chinese Communist Party, mounting tensions between the U.S. and China have ignited fears around access to user data — with TikTok caught in the crossfire.

TikTok has repeatedly denied that it shares any data with the Chinese government, and though some are concerned with privacy, others say bans on social media platforms limit the right to freedom of speech.

The ACLU was quick to criticize the ban at its original passing, and wrote that the blocking of this "unconstitutional" legislation was "upholding the free speech rights of people in the state."

It is unclear when a final decision on the bill will be heard, but experts were skeptical about its potential implementation from the onset.

At a hearing about the bill in March, a representative from TechNet said that app stores "do not have the ability to geofence" apps on a state-by-state basis, making it impossible for the restriction to be enforceable in popular app marketplaces.

Even so, the text of the original bill stated that anyone in violation of the law would have been liable to pay $10,000 per violation, and also liable for an additional $10,000 each day the violation continued.

CBS News has reached out to the office of the Montana governor for comment.

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