REUTERS/Florence Lo

Court blocks decision to remove WeChat from US app stores

US Justice of the Peace Laurel Beeler of San Francisco has blocked the US Department of Commerce’s decision to remove the WeChat messaging app from the app stores Apple and Google (Alphabet holding) of the Chinese firm Tencent.

REUTERS / Florence Lo

On Friday, Apple and Google were to remove WeChat from app stores on September 20, according to an order from the US department. At the same time, the US Department of Justice urged Beeler not to block this decision.

In her ruling, the US Justice of the Peace indicated that the WeChat users who filed the lawsuit, “have raised serious substantive issues based on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the balance of harm tilts in favor of the plaintiffs“.

Laurel Beeler’s preliminary injunction also blocked a US Department of Commerce order banning other WeChat transactions in the United States, which could have impacted the usability of the site for current US users. As Beeler noted, although the US government has identified “serious threats national security, there is “very little evidence that his effective ban on WeChat for all US users addresses these concerns.”

Last month, the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance sued the Donald Trump administration, arguing that the ban would violate due process and freedom of expression. The lawsuit noted that the ban potentially targets Chinese Americans as WeChat is “the main application that Chinese people in the United States use to participate in public life, interacting with loved ones, sharing special moments, discussing ideas, receiving the latest news and participating in political discussions and advocacy“.

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