Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor joined 17 other Republican attorneys general supporting Montana’s ban on social media platform TikTok in a brief filed this week in federal court.
In the Monday filing, the states said their powers include the ability “to protect their citizens from deceptive and harmful business practices.”
In May, Montana became the first state in the nation to pass a law banning the use of the video sharing app. The law, set to take effect Jan. 1, was quickly challenged in court by TikTok. In their court filing, the Republican attorneys general urged a judge to side with Montana.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, who signed the ban into law, said it would “protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.” TikTok, which is owned by China-based company ByteDance Ltd., has said it would not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government, and that bans on its use in Montana violate U.S. law, including the First Amendment.
A spokesperson for Gov. Mike Dunleavy said questions on the decision to support Montana’s TikTok ban should go to the Department of Law.
“We believe these types of laws are fully within the consumer protection authority of a state to enact. If TikTok wants to operate within a state, they need to meet the consumer-focused protections under state law to do so. TikTok cannot hide under the banner of ‘foreign regulation,’ ” Taylor said in a statement.
Taylor did not say whether he would support a similar ban in Alaska.
“This is not the attorney general’s policy call — that is up to the Legislature,” said Department of Law spokesperson Patty Sullivan.
No such legislation has been introduced in Alaska.
The Department of Law does not track the number of TikTok users in Alaska. The app has roughly 100 million users across the U.S. — just under one-third of Americans.
In an email, Taylor said he “urges all parents to monitor and limit/eliminate social media use by their minor children.”
Taylor went on to quote recommendations from the American Psychological Association, which state that “parents should take a multipronged approach to social media management, including time limits, parental monitoring and supervision, and ongoing discussions about social media.”
According to the association’s recommendation, “social media can help teenagers with healthy development but it can also create risks.”
Dunleavy this year imposed a ban on the use of TikTok on state-owned computers and phones, joining numerous other states with such bans. A similar ban exists for federally owned devices.
At the time, Dunleavy said, “TikTok poses a clear risk to any network or user it touches.”