A federal judge slams the brakes on Montana’s reckless bid to totally ban TikTok, the first state to push such extremes sans evidence. While the injunction saves ByteDance from immediate bans, the case spotlights escalating USA-China hostilities playing out through technology proxies.
Judge Molloy ruled the Trumpian embargo – approved despite lack of hard data confirming Chinese administrative access – clearly breached multiple Constitutional cornerstones. His temporary block affords TikTok breathing room until the case proceeds to later phases peering deeper into motivations.
Critically, the decision forces Montana to substantiate its extraordinary censorship absent broaddeclamations around foreign entanglements. Officials insisted targeting TikTok protected state residents, yet refused coherent explanations before essentially criminalizing an entire communications platform.
The dangerous precedent cannot stand legally or morally when advanced without compelling cause. Even Trump’s hostile orders stopped short of essentially outlawing TikTok access as Montana attempted from consumer and enterprise fronts. Critics argue ulterior partisan motives concerning to any who value expression rights.
Make no mistake, reasonable concerns exist around TikTok’s relationship with overseers in Beijing compared to US competitors. But the burden remains on lawmakers to prove actual exploitation justifying bans versus imagined risks and xenophobic scapegoating given epistemic uncertainty.
If credible evidence ultimately confirms backdoors opening accounts to intrusion, restrictions deserve consideration by society balancing complex issues. Yet the Montana case chillingly confirms some politician’s willingness to attack first absent smoking guns if targets seem sufficiently foreign or threatening to their agenda.
So this injunction passes one key test around wild overreach regarding TikTok specifically. But encroaching appeals courts must now more broadly weigh technology regulation rights versus blind spots allowing fear or alienation to spark disproportionate suppression when facts remain unclear. The stability of speech itself hangs in the balance.