Adam Botkin, a football TikTok influencer, uses his phone after recording a video for a post at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula, Mont., on Monday, May 1, 2023. Botkin, a former walk-on place kicker and punter for the Montana Grizzlies, gained notoriety on the social media platform after videos of him performing kicking tricks went viral. (AP Photo/Tommy Martino)
By Amy Beth Hanson And Haleluya Hadero in Helena
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana became the first state in the U.S. to enact a complete ban on TikTok on Wednesday when Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a measure that’s more sweeping than any other state’s attempts to curtail the social media app, which is owned by a Chinese tech company.
The measure, scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, is expected to be challenged legally and will serve as a testing ground for the TikTok-free America that many national lawmakers have envisioned. Cybersecurity experts say it could be difficult to enforce the ban.
“Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party,” Gianforte said in a statement.
TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter argued that the law infringes on people’s First Amendment rights and is unlawful. She declined to say whether the company will file a lawsuit.
“We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana,” Oberwetter said in a statement.
The ACLU of Montana and NetChoice, a trade group that counts Google and TikTok as its members, also called the law unconstitutional. Keegan Medrano, policy director for the ACLU of Montana, said the Legislature “trampled 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.”
Some lawmakers, the FBI and officials at other agencies are concerned the video-sharing app, owned by ByteDance, could be used to allow the Chinese government to access information on American citizens or push pro-Beijing misinformation that could influence the public. TikTok says none of this has ever happened.
A former executive at ByteDance alleges the tech giant is serving as a “propaganda tool” for the Chinese government, a claim ByteDance says is baseless.
When Montana banned the app on government-owned devices in late December, Gianforte said TikTok posed a “significant risk” to sensitive state data. More than half of U.S. states and the federal government have a similar ban.
On Wednesday, Gianforte also announced he was prohibiting the use of all social media applications tied to foreign adversaries on state equipment and for state businesses in Montana effective on June 1. Among the apps he listed are WeChat, whose parent company is headquartered in China; and Telegram Messenger, which was founded in Russia.
The legislation, drafted by the attorney general’s office, easily passed through Montana’s GOP-controlled Legislature.
Gianforte had wanted to expand the TikTok bill to include apps tied to foreign adversaries, but lawmakers did not send him the bill until after the session ended earlier this month, preventing him from offering any amendments.
Montana’s new law prohibits downloads of TikTok in the state and would fine any “entity” — an app store or TikTok — $10,000 per day for each time someone “is offered the ability” to access the social media platform or download the app. The penalties would not apply to users.
Opponents say Montana residents could easily circumvent the ban by using a virtual private network, a service that shields internet users by encrypting their data traffic, preventing others from observing their web browsing. Montana state officials say geofencing technology is used with online sports gambling apps, which are deactivated in states where online gambling is illegal.
Though many lawmakers in Montana have been enthusiastic about a ban, experts who followed the bill closely said the state will likely have to defend the legislation in court.
Officials are also bound to receive criticism from advocacy groups and TikTok users who don’t want their favorite app to be taken away. The app’s fun, goofy videos and ease of use has made it immensely popular, and U.S. tech giants like Snapchat and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, see it as a competitive threat.
TikTok has been recruiting so-called influencers and small businesses who use the platform to push back on a ban. But others who haven’t been part of an official campaign coordinated by the company are also worried about what lawmakers are doing.
Adam Botkin, a former football player and recent graduate at the University of Montana, said it was a scary time for him as a content creator in Montana. The 22-year-old has nearly 170,000 followers on TikTok, where he mostly posts short videos of himself performing football kicks.
He says he sometimes makes “tens of thousands” of dollars per month from brands looking to market their products on his social media accounts, including Instagram, where he has roughly 44,000 followers.
Botkin says most of his income comes from Instagram, which is believed to be more lucrative for content creators. But he has to grow his following on that platform — and others — to have the same level of popularity that he does on TikTok. He says he’s trying to do that, and won’t try to circumvent the TikTok ban by using a VPN.
“You got to adapt and evolve with how things move,” Botkin said. “So, if I have to adapt and move, I’ll adapt.”
Chatter about a TikTok ban has been around since 2020, when then-President Donald Trump attempted to bar the company from operating in the U.S. through an executive order that was halted in federal courts. President Joe Biden’s administration initially shelved those plans, but more recently threatened to ban the app if the company’s Chinese owners don’t sell their stakes.
TikTok doesn’t want either option and has been clamoring to prove it’s free of any Chinese government interference. It’s also touting a data safety plan it calls “Project Texas” to assuage bipartisan concerns in Washington.
At the same time, some lawmakers have emerged as allies, arguing efforts to restrict data harvesting practices need to include all social media companies, not just one. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky blocked a bill in March that would ban TikTok nationally, saying such a move would violate the Constitution and anger the millions of voters who use the app.
Montana’s TikTok ban also comes amid a growing movement to limit social media use among kids and teens and, in some cases, impose bans. Several bills circulating in Congress aim to get at the issue, including one that would prohibit all children under the age of 13 from using social media and require permission from a guardian for users under 18 to create an account.
Some states, like Utah and Arkansas, have already enacted laws that would hinge social media use on parental consent. Similar bills are in the works in other states. Last year, California enacted a law requiring companies to beef up data protection practices for children and offer them the highest privacy settings.
Hadero reported from New York.
Brooks Robinson, Orioles third baseman with 16 Gold Gloves, has died. He was 86
BALTIMORE (AP) — Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson, whose deft glovework and folksy manner made him one of the most beloved and accomplished athletes in Baltimore history, has died. He was 86.
The Orioles announced his death in a joint statement with Robinson’s family Tuesday. The statement did not say how Robinson died.
Coming of age before the free agent era, Robinson spent his entire 23-year career with the Orioles. He almost single-handedly helped Baltimore defeat Cincinnati in the 1970 World Series and homered in Game 1 of the Orioles’ 1966 sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers for their first crown.
Robinson participated in 18 All-Star Games, won 16 consecutive Gold Gloves and earned the 1964 AL Most Valuable Player award after batting .318 with 28 home runs and a league-leading 118 RBIs.
“An integral part of our Orioles Family since 1955, he will continue to leave a lasting impact on our club, our community, and the sport of baseball,” the team said.
He finished with 268 homers, drove in 1,357 runs and batted a respectable .267 in 2,896 career games. Not bad for ol’ No. 5, the boy from Arkansas.
But he will be forever remembered for his work ethic and the skill he displayed at the hot corner, where he established himself as one of the finest fielding third baseman in baseball history, whether charging slow rollers or snaring liners down the third-base line.
“Brooks was maybe the last guy to get into the clubhouse the day of the game, but he would be the first guy on the field,” former Orioles manager Earl Weaver said. “He’d be taking his groundballs, and we’d all go, ‘Why does Brooks have to take any groundballs?’
“I wouldn’t expect anything else from Brooks. Seeing him work like that meant a lot of any young person coming up. He was so steady, and he steadied everybody else.”
Robinson arrived in Baltimore in September 1955 as an 18-year-old after spending most of his first professional season in baseball with Class B York. He went 2 for 22 with the Orioles and struck out 10 times.
He jockeyed between the majors and minors until July 1959, when he stuck around in Baltimore for good.
Brooks Calbert Robinson Jr. was born in Little Rock on May 18, 1937. He eventually made Baltimore his home but never really lost his southern twang, which was just fine with fans in blue-collar Baltimore, who appreciated his homespun charm and unassuming demeanor.
Dubbed “Mr. Oriole,” he was a sports hero in Charm City, in the pantheon with former Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas and Orioles infielder Cal Ripken, who performed for a different generation.
Many Orioles rooters who never got to see Robinson play still were able to enjoy his observations as he was part of team broadcasts.
Ripken was known as The Iron Man because he played in 2,632 consecutive games, but Robinson wasn’t fond of sitting on the bench, either. From 1960-1975, he played in at least 152 games in 14 seasons and in 144 games the other two years.
“I’m a guy who just wanted to see his name in the lineup everyday,” he said. “To me, baseball was a passion to the point of obsession.”
Robinson retired in 1977 after batting only .149 in 24 games. His jersey was retired that year.
Robinson’s most memorable performance came as MVP of the 1970 World Series, when the Orioles bounced back from their stunning defeat to the New York Mets the year before and Robinson redeemed himself after batting just 1 for 19 in that series. Because he was so sensational in the field during Baltimore’s five-game triumph over the Reds, few remember he hit .429 and homered twice and drove in six runs — or that he made an error on his first play in the field.
In Game 1, Robinson delivered the tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning. One inning earlier, he made a sensational backhanded grab of a hard grounder hit down the line by Lee May, spun around in foul territory and somehow threw out the runner.
Robinson contributed an RBI single in the second game and became forever a part of World Series lore with his standout performance in Game 3. He made a tremendous, leaping grab of a grounder by Tony Perez to start a first-inning double play; charged a slow roller in the second inning and threw out Tommy Helms; then capped his memorable afternoon with a diving catch of a liner by Johnny Bench. The Series ended, fittingly, with a ground out to Robinson in Game 5, a 9-3 Orioles win.
“I’m beginning to see Brooks in my sleep,” Reds manager Sparky Anderson said during the Series. “If I dropped this paper plate, he’d pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first.”
Anderson also said, “He can throw his glove out there and it will start 10 double plays by itself.”
Jim Palmer and other teammates would say that the country got to see what Robinson did routinely during the regular season. Robinson used to blush when asked to recall his heroics in October 1970.
“I tell people that I played 23 seasons and I never did have five games in a row like I did in that World Series,” he said. “It was a once in a lifetime five-game series for me, and it just happened to be in a World Series.”
His legacy in Maryland continued long after his retirement.
There’s a Brooks Robinson Drive in Pikesville, and the annual state high school All-Star game played at Camden Yards is named in his honor.
AP Baseball: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB
David Ginsburg, The Associated Press
After briefing on intel, Singh says ‘clear evidence’ India involved in B.C. killing
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks with the media on Parliament Hill, Tuesday, September 26, 2023 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
By Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Tuesday he received an intelligence briefing about allegations that the Indian government could be behind the killing of a Sikh gurdwara leader in British Columbia.
“I can confirm what the prime minister has shared publicly: that there is clear intelligence that Canada has that lays out the following case that a Canadian citizen was killed on Canadian soil and a foreign government was involved,” Singh told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday.
“That intelligence is something that I think is very credible.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons Sept. 18 about “credible allegations” that the Indian government was involved in the June death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, B.C.
The well-known activist belonged to a movement that advocated for the creation of an independent Sikh state in India’s Punjab province. India’s government had labelled him a terrorist but has denied any involvement in his killing, calling the allegations by Trudeau “absurd and motivated.”
The extraordinary allegation has worsened already rocky relations between India and Canada. India’s government has accused Canada of not providing evidence to back up its claim, while Trudeau and other other ministers have called on India to co-operate with investigations.
Singh said Trudeau first told him and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre about the allegations against India before sharing them publicly. Three days later, Singh received a briefing from Trudeau’s national security adviser, Jody Thomas.
Singh told reporters Tuesday that he was able to request the briefing on the matter because of the top-secret security clearance he obtained to review foreign-interference materials prepared by former governor general David Johnston, who had been named as a special rapporteur to explore that issue. Johnston has resigned from that role.
The former governor general’s report had concluded that Trudeau’s government did not knowingly or negligently fail to act on foreign attempts to interfere in the last two federal elections.
He had also recommended against calling a public inquiry into the issue. The Liberal government ended up tapping Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Marie-Josée Hogue to lead one earlier this month after months of outcry from, and discussions with, opposition parties.
Singh said that after reviewing the confidential material he had access to from Johnston, he agrees a public inquiry into foreign interference is necessary.
Poilievre has so far rejected getting the clearance needed to review the top-secret annex from Johnston’s earlier report.
Poilievre said Tuesday that he was offered a briefing similar to one B.C. Premier David Eby received on the matter.
He said he doesn’t believe the briefing will offer any more substantial details on the allegation and would only force him to be tight-lipped about whatever he learned.
The Conservative leader has called on Trudeau to “come clean” about the evidence behind the allegation against India, saying Canadians deserve more facts.
Singh said Tuesday he does not support that call.
“They’re matters of national security and so information cannot be released beyond the general statements that were released,” he said.
“There’s going to be a next step in the investigation and a prosecution and then information will be made public in an appropriate manner. … To do it early would jeopardize the investigation.”
A Canadian official told The Associated Press that the allegation of India’s involvement is based on surveillance of Indian diplomats in Canada, including intelligence provided by a major ally.
The official said the communications involved Indian government officials and Indian diplomats in Canada and that some of the intelligence was provided by a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance — Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
The official did not say which ally provided the intelligence or give any details of the communications or how they were obtained. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period that aired on Sunday, David Cohen, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, confirmed “there was shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners that helped lead Canada to making the statements that the prime minister made.”
He said he does not generally comment on “private diplomatic conversations,” but added: “There was a lot of communication between Canada and the United States about this, and I think that’s as far as I’m comfortable going.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2023.
— With files from James McCarten in Washington and The Associated Press.
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