A U.S. judge stopped the Trump administration from removing WeChat, the Chinese-owned messaging app, for downloads from Alphabet Inc and Apple Inc’s Google.
Laurel Beeler, the U.S. Magistrate Judge in San Francisco stated that the WeChat users who filed a complaint have shown critical questions going in the virtues of the First Amendment claim, the balance of adversities tips in the accusers’ favor.
The U.S. Commerce Department issued an order on Friday mentioning national security basis to block the app from the U.S. app stores which are owned by Tencent Holdings and the Justice Department had advised Beeler not to block the order.
Beeler’s initial ban also blocked the Commerce order that could have barred other dealings with WeChat in the US. This could have reduced WeChat’s usability in the present U.S. users or possibly made it unusable.
WeChat has witnessed around 19 million daily active users in the US. It is popular among the Americans living in China, Chinese students, and some Americans who have professional or personal connections with China.
The Justice Department stated that the president’s aim to address threats to national security will be displaced if the order is blocked.
Beeler called the administration’s predominant national security interests noteworthy but while the administration has found that the activities of China raise substantial national security concerns, it has given negligible evidence that its ban on WeChat for all US users will address the issue.
With over a billion users, WeChat combines services like WhatsApp, Venmo, Facebook, and Instagram and is an important part of everyday life for many people in China.
The Justice Department also reasoned that the users of WeChat can switch to other platforms or apps.
The lawyer for the users, Michael Bien stated that the US has never banned any major communication platform, not even during the wars. There are serious First Amendment issues with the WeChat prohibition that targets the Chinese American community.