Judge blocks US ban on WeChat app downloads

US ban on app

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 18: In this photo illustration the logo of Chinese media app for creating and sharing short videos WeChat is displayed on the screen of a smartphone on September 18, 2020 in Paris, France. The United States on Friday announced a ban on downloading TikTok and WeChat apps, which are very popular with young people, from Sunday, with the two Chinese apps facing accusations of spying for the benefit of China. (Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)


Chesnot/Getty Images

isn’t alone in avoiding a US ban, at least for now. Reuters reports that Judge Laurel Beeler has issued a preliminary injunction blocking a Commerce Department order that would remove WeChat from US app stores by the end of September 20th. Users who sued the Trump administration over the ban have raised “serious questions” about First Amendment free speech issues, Judge Beeler said, and that tipped the “balance of hardships” in their favor.

The injunction similarly thwarted an order that would have forbidden other US transactions WeChat.

Beeler added that the government’s general national security concerns about China were “considerable,” but that evidence of specific issues with WeChat was “modest.” Like with TikTok, politicians have been worried that China might push Tencent-owned WeChat to spy on Americans.

The move stymies the administration’s attempt to crack down on China-owned internet services, at least until the lawsuit comes to its conclusion.

It’s also a relief to both users and US companies. WeChat is a mainstay app in China, and a ban would have made it harder for Chinese Americans to message overseas relatives. Also, firms like Apple and Disney have warned that they stand to lose if they can’t interact with WeChat. Apple’s iPhone sales in China depend heavily on access to WeChat, for example. If it’s not allowed to offer the app, its future in the country is in doubt. The injunction puts those fears on hold, however temporarily.

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