Labeling the state’s charges as “extraordinary and unprecedented,” not to mention based on unfounded speculations, the ByteDance-owned company argues that the state is trying to unconstitutionally mum a forum of free speech. It also counters the rationale that TikTok content is harmful to minors. To recall, Montana’s bill cites so-called TikTok challenges such as licking toilet seats at risk of contracting disease, loosening nuts on vehicles, and cooking chicken in Nyquil as examples of activities harmful to young users.
In addition to the state’s alleged First Amendment violation, TikTok’s legal case also invokes federal laws, specifically those concerning national security. Montana’s bill claims that the People’s Republic of China’s control over parent company ByteDance poses a legitimate threat to U.S. security, as TikTok could potentially collect and share sensitive details about its users. TikTok disagrees with those charges and also adds that the U.S. federal government exercises exclusive authority over such matters, not individual states.
The lawsuit also brings up the national government’s commerce clause, claiming that the state of Montana has limited authority when it comes to enacting “legislation that unduly burdens interstate and foreign commerce.” TikTok says the platform is an international commerce platform and imposing a state-wide ban will lead to varied tangible disruptions. Questing the fairness of the ban, the company says Montana is singling out the platform over speculative concerns instead of trying to moderate and regulate all social media platforms in general.