The U.S. Department of Commerce said on Monday that it will challenge an order issued by a U.S. judge on Sunday that blocked the department’s order that requires Apple and Google to remove WeChat from their U.S. app stores.
The U.S. District Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the department’s order, which would also prohibit other U.S. transactions with Tencent WeChat, which could render the app unusable in the U.S. .
The Department of Commerce said: “The prohibition of established transactions is necessary to protect the national security of the United States. The Department of Commerce is expected to seek relief from the order soon.”
Beeler said that the WeChat users who filed the lawsuit “have raised serious questions about the merits of the First Amendment claim.”
Last Friday, the US Department of Commerce issued an order on national security grounds to block the application from use in the US App Store before 11:59 pm Eastern Time on Sunday.
The Justice Department had urged Biller not to block this action, saying it would “frustrate the president’s determination to best address threats to national security.”
Tencent declined to comment on Buehler’s order.
Analysis firm Apptopia stated in early August that WeChat has an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States. It is popular among Chinese students, Americans living in China, and some Americans who have personal or business relationships in China.
Beeler wrote: “Of course, the government’s primary national security interest is significant. But on this record, although the government has determined that China’s activities have caused major national security concerns, there is very little evidence that it effectively bans all US users. Use WeChat signs. Solve these problems.”
WeChat is a multifunctional mobile application that combines services similar to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Venmo. The app is an important part of the daily lives of many Chinese people, with more than 1 billion users.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
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