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Tester reverses course, suggests Montana shouldn't have banned 'silly' TikTok app after signaling support

Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat who initially supported a ban of TikTok in his home state of Montana, reversed course this week and suggested that the state should not have banned the “silly app.” 

Montana became the first state in the U.S. to completely ban TikTok last week. The measure is expected to be challenged legally and will serve as a testing ground for the TikTok-free America that some national lawmakers have envisioned.

Montana’s new law prohibits 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 the social media platform or download the app. The penalties would not apply to users.

After the measure was signed into law by Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, Tester suggested during an interview with a local outlet, the Havre Daily News, that TikTok should be held accountable for the “treasonous” things it has done. He also suggested that TikTok CEO Shou Chew’s testimony before Congress earlier this year was a “trainwreck.”

Tester, who is seeking re-election to his post in the Senate next year, has previously said that “eliminating opportunities for China to gather data and spy on the American government is a no-brainer,” according to the Alaska Beacon.

But Tester, following a lawsuit from TikTok that was filed against the state earlier this week, appeared to have had a possible change of heart about Montana’s ban of the app.

TIKTOK SUES MONTANA FOR OUTRIGHT BAN OF THE APP IN-STATE

Tester’s previous comments that suggested that the state should not have banned the app followed a lawsuit against Montana from TikTok, which claimed that prohibiting its use violates the First Amendment.

“We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana,” a TikTok spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement. “We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts.”

In its lawsuit, TikTok claims that Montana’s ban is unlawful because it violates the plaintiff’s free speech, is preempted by federal law, violates the Commerce Clause and singles the company out “for harsh penalties based on speculative concerns about TikTok’s data security and content moderation practices.”

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