Trump Administration Asks US Court to Allow WeChat Ban to Proceed

September 26, 2020 3:39 am

Beijing (PingWest)—The Justice Department asked a federal judge Friday not to stand in the way of its bid to stop Americans from downloads of WeChat, a mobile messaging app owned by Chinese tech giant WeChat, according to Courthouse News Service.

On Sept. 19, Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction at the behest of users who argued those prohibitions trampled the free-speech rights of millions of Chinese-speaking Americans.

The ruling prevented the Trump administration from forcing Apple and Google to remove Tencent's WeChat, the only feasible way for the Chinese diaspora to keep in touch with friends and families in China, from their libraries before Sept. 20.

The Justice Department argued Friday in a court filing that Beeler should let its ban take effect while the case advances, saying the Chinese government is using the app to collect and use personal data on Americans for its own purposes.

Beeler’s “injunction permits the continued, unfettered use of WeChat, a mobile application that the Executive Branch has determined constitutes a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” the filing states.  

The Trump administration points out that the app is also a minefield of disinformation, adding that the US will suffer irreparable harm if WeChat remains available for download.

As tensions ramp up between Beijing and Washington, Chinese-based apps such as TikTok and WeChat have become the recent focal point of the Trump administration due to purported user-privacy and national-security concerns.

According to analytics firms Apptopia, WeChat has had an average of 19 million daily active users in the US in early August.