Montana Governor Greg Gianforte is clearing the way for the Legislature's direction to ban the use of the TikTok social media app, saying it's a tool for the Chinese government to spy on Americans.

Gianforte signed Senate Bill 419 in Helena Wednesday, a month after Republican lawmakers approved the legislation stopping providers from making the popular, yet controversial, social media platform available for use in Montana.

His action comes after time ran out on his proposal to amend the original bill with broader language that wouldn't have singled out TikTok, but any app that collects data for use by foreign adversaries.

K99 logo
Get our free mobile app

However, Gianforte did include that approach in a letter stopping state agencies from using apps like TikTok on "state equipment and for state business in Montana."

“The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented.” Governor Gianforte

Montana becomes the first state to ban TikTok

The new law prevents mobile app "stores", like Apple and Google from offering the app for download, starting in January.  It's expected that could spur a legal challenge.

Under the order to the state's Chief Information Officer, Gianforte's broader plan to amend the bill expands his original orders to state agencies last winter, recommendations which were expanded to include the state's colleges and universities. That bans "the use of all social media applications that collect and provide personal information or data to foreign adversaries on government-issued devices, while connected to the state network, or for state business in Montana."

Gianforte sees "responsibility" to protect Montanans' data 

“One of the government’s chief responsibilities is to keep its citizens, and their personal, private, sensitive information and data, safe and secure. Foreign adversaries’ collection and use of Montanans’ personal information and data from social media applications infringe on Montanans’ constitutionally guaranteed individual right to privacy,” Gov. Gianforte wrote in a memo to Montana’s Chief Information Officer Kevin Gilbertson and executive agency directors.

That order takes effect June 1st and also prohibits third-party firms who do business with the state from using apps with "ties to foreign adversaries".

Gianforte notes that Bytedance, which developed TikTok, is pushing out new apps like Lemon8 and CapCut to U.S. markets.

READ MORE: Why the Montana Legislature was so set on banning TikTok

11 Montana Bumper Stickers You'll Want to Put on Your Car

More From K99