LOS ANGELES, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. federal judge's order blocking Montana's TikTok ban from going into effect has been applauded Friday by civil rights and tech groups in the country.
The judge issued a preliminary injunction against the ban on Thursday, saying that a statewide ban on the popular social media app likely violates free speech.
The ruling has been welcomed by industry experts and civil rights groups that have strongly opposed the law passed by Montana legislators in April. The law is the first in the United States to ban an app entirely across a state.
Following the ruling, TikTok said on X, formerly Twitter, "We are pleased the judge rejected this unconstitutional law and hundreds of thousands of Montanans can continue to express themselves, earn a living, and find community on TikTok."
"This law is plainly unconstitutional, and we are glad to see the court recognize this in the preliminary injunction and ensure the internet remains open and free for Americans," said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of the tech industry group NetChoice, in a statement on Friday.
"The government may not block our ability to access constitutionally protected speech -- whether it is in a newspaper, on a website or via an app," Szabo said.
"In passing this law, Montana's government ignored the Constitution, harmed its businesses and creators, chilled innovation and disconnected Montanans. The court's decision to block this law is correct," he continued.
NetChoice, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) all filed amicus briefs in support of TikTok.
The ACLU and EFF praised Thursday's ruling as "a significant victory for the people of Montana and their First Amendment protections, preserving their access to TikTok as a vital platform for communication, information, and self-expression."
The ACLU led a coalition of rights groups that sent a joint letter to Montana legislators, claiming that the ban is unjustified on national security grounds.
"With this ban, Governor Gianforte and the Montana legislature tried to trample on the free speech of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who use the app to express themselves, gather information, and run their small business in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment," said Alex Rate, legal director at the ACLU of Montana, in the release. "We will never trade our First Amendment rights for cheap political points."
The ACLU said TikTok plays an "important and significant" role for communities of color, including Indigenous communities, in Montana, who use the platform to "foster solidarity online and to highlight issues vital to them."
The ruling will ensure that the app can continue to play such a role and "reaffirm the unique ways" in which Montanans rely on TikTok to communicate and interact with other people in the country and the world, it said.
"Many Montanans use TikTok to communicate with local and global audiences. We are pleased that a federal judge has blocked the state from violating their rights by banning this speech platform," said EFF's Civil Liberties Director David Greene.
Experts said the ruling also has important implications for other "draconian efforts" to ban TikTok at the state and federal levels in the country. ■