Judge Rules Government Can’t Force WeChat off App Stores
A judge in California has blocked the Trump administration from forcing either Apple or Google to remove the WeChat apps from their app stores, Reuters reports. The judge, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler, said that a ban would cause hardship and that forcing it would “burden substantially more speech than is necessary to serve the government’s significant interest in national security, especially given the lack of substitute channels for communication.”
Beeler acknowledged that there may be significant national security concerns around Chinese-owned apps, but she also said that there was little evidence that WeChat specifically was a problem, or that banning WeChat in the U.S. would help that situation.
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced the move to ban TikTok and WeChat from U.S. app stores on Friday, after weeks of threats about banning the apps entirely. This is part of a months-long saga of President Donald Trump’s acrimony toward China being played out in the arena of popular mobile apps.
The lawsuit against the ban was brought by a group of Chinese-American lawyers who argued that the attempt to ban WeChat was unconstitutional and violated the right to free speech. Many Chinese-Americans rely on WeChat to talk to friends and family in China, and banning this app would undoubtedly hit Chinese-Americans the hardest.
For now, the app should continue to be available in U.S. app stores.