BREAKING: Federal Judge Blocks the Trump Administration's WeChat Ban

Posted: Sep 20, 2020 11:20 AM
BREAKING: Federal Judge Blocks the Trump Administration's WeChat Ban

Source: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File

U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler on Sunday placed an injunction against the Trump administration's ban on WeChat, the Chinese-owned messaging app. The federal ban on new downloads was scheduled to go into effect at 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The ruling came after the federal judge in California took into account a motion from the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance, the group who filed the lawsuit. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, one of Judge Beeier's main concerns was over free speech. She concluded “there are no viable substitute platforms or apps for the Chinese-speaking and Chinese-American community.”

“WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat,” she said in the order.

There are currently 19 million users in the United States and more than 1.2 billion users around the world. One of the concerns the Trump administration has had with WeChat and TikTok is their Chinese owners and privacy. WeChat frequently keeps information about users and provides it to the Chinese government.

The judge understood the national security interests the Trump administration brought forward but said “the specific evidence about WeChat is modest.”

The ruling comes after President Trump on Saturday signed off on a partnership between TikTok, Oracle and Walmart. The Chinese-owned video platform will become a company in the United States. The deal was struck in light of Sunday night's ban, which would pull the app from mobile stores like Apple and Google Play.