(NEW YORK) – PEN America today strongly condemned first-of-its kind legislation banning the use of TikTok, which the Montana legislature passed on Friday, saying  the bill “creates a significant risk of continued government incursion into online freedom and free expression.” PEN America urged Governor Gianforte to consider less extreme measures to address legitimate concerns about the social media platform.

“Banning TikTok deprives all Montanans of a platform they use to access news, share creative endeavors, and grow their businesses, and creates a significant risk of continued government incursion into online freedom and free expression,” said Kate Ruane, director of PEN America’s US Free Expression Program “We fully acknowledge the legitimate privacy and security risks posed by TikTok; however measures short of a ban, including enacting a strong, comprehensive consumer privacy law, would be a more narrowly tailored way to address those risks without harming free expression. We urge Governor Gianforte to consider less extreme measures on behalf of all Montanans.”

In March, PEN America released a letter signed by more than a dozen other civil liberties, digital rights, and anti-censorship  organizations opposing federal legislation and proposals that seek to impose a wholesale ban on TikTok.

Signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, and the National Coalition Against Censorship, among other prominent organizations — the letter lays out how a nationwide ban on TikTok would have serious consequences for free expression in the digital sphere and set a dangerous precedent for the restriction of speech in a time of increased global censorship of internet users.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057