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Ninth Circuit Should Uphold Preliminary Injunction in Alario v. Knudsen

SAN FRANCISCO—Today, NetChoice filed an amicus curiae brief at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case Alario v. Knudsen. In the brief, we ask the court to affirm the District Court’s preliminary injunction against the State of Montana’s complete ban of TikTok, Inc. The ban was set to take effect on January 1 of this year.

TikTok and a group of five content creators filed lawsuits against the state of Montana after the law was enacted. They argued, among other things, that the ban is a prior restraint on expression that violates the First Amendment. NetChoice filed an amicus brief supporting their challenge last year.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ultimately agreed with the plaintiffs, granting them a preliminary injunction of the law last fall. The Court reasoned that the state’s concerns over data privacy and foreign influence, while significant, were not addressed in a manner narrowly tailored enough to justify the broad suppression of free speech represented by a complete ban on the app. Montana then appealed the District Court’s judgment to the Ninth Circuit.

Our brief in Alario v. Knudson makes three key points: 

  • A fragmented internet would be detrimental to commerce and the free flow of information;
  • While the federal government is better suited to regulate the internet in most cases, the argument for national rather than state legislation is overwhelming in this particular case; and
  • If this Court sanctions Montana’s state-specific approach to internet regulation, nothing will stop other states from following Montana’s lead.  

“Montana’s ban is part of a long line of conflicting state efforts to regulate access to online speech fora—efforts that the courts have largely enjoined. To clarify that states lack authority to splinter the vibrant, competitive free market that characterizes the internet today, we ask the Ninth Circuit to affirm the District Court’s injunction,” said Nicole Saad Bembridge, Associate Director of the NetChoice Litigation Center.

Read NetChoice’s amicus curiae brief here

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