Montana expanded a social media ban beyond TikTok to include popular apps Telegram, WeChat and Temu, citing concerns about data sharing with “foreign adversaries.”
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte made a significant move on Wednesday by extending the state-wide ban beyond TikTok and targeting messaging apps like Telegram and WeChat, as well as the shopping app Temu, due to concerns of their alleged ties to foreign adversaries.
In his directive, Gianforte also pointed out ByteDance’s CapCut video editor and Lemon8 as examples of apps to be banned, indicating a focus on Chinese-linked platforms.
While Telegram has its roots in Russia, the governor’s letter suggests concerns about the Russian government’s potential use of the app for monitoring and obtaining personal information.
“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,” Gov. Gianforte said on Twitter.
Starting from June 1, Montana will implement its new policy, prohibiting the installation of apps like WeChat and Telegram on all state-issued devices such as cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers and other internet-connected devices.
This ban affects widely-used messaging platforms known for their chat functionalities while also impacting the popular shopping app Temu, which currently holds the top spot as the most downloaded free app in the U.S. on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Montana’s ban on TikTok could set a new precedent for the extent to which lawmakers can restrict the operations of a private company, particularly a Chinese-owned one, which has been a concern in the U.S.
Previously, the Trump administration failed to compel ByteDance to sell the app to an American buyer. Even the Biden government faced similar hurdles.
Biden had urged TikTok to sell the social media platform to a U.S. company over growing concerns on national security.
On the other hand, Telegram has faced its fair share of issues. Regular chats on the platform are not end-to-end encrypted, unlike “private” ones. The Pavel Durov-founded messaging platform also faced criticism amid the Ukrainian crisis for being a source of misinformation.
Previously, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress in regards the private security data whether it was selling information to the Chinese government.
ByteDance is currently headquartered in Beijing.
TikTok was also criticized for promoting teen suicide algorithms that claimed the life of Chase Nasca, who committed suicide at the age of 16.
Nasca’s parents were present at the time when Chew testified on Capitol Hill.
“He’s not concerned with anything of dealing with this,” Nasca’s parent said of Chew at the time of his testimony. “His concern is with China. This doesn’t scare him. China scares him, so he’s not going to modify his behavior because there isn’t really a threat here.
The U.S. government had banned TikTok on its devices where employees are not authorized to use the app. The European Union soon followed on same protocols.
Produced in association with Benzinga