On Monday, a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a request from the Department of Justice that allowed the government to immediately prohibit Apple and Alphabet’s Google from providing Tencent’s WeChat for download in the U.S. App Store.
A panel of three judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stated in a brief order that the government has not proved that it will “suffer imminent and irreparable harm while the appeal is pending, and this situation is being dealt with quickly.”
Last Friday, a judge in San Francisco, the United States, rejected the request of the Department of Justice, asking it to revoke its decision to block WeChat from a lawsuit brought by the US Department of Commerce against WeChat users.
WeChat users said that the ruling would avoid “unprecedented shutdown of the main communication platform that millions of people in the United States rely on.”
The US Department of Commerce’s order that took effect on September 20 will also prohibit other transactions with WeChat in the US, which may make the app unusable in the US.
The appeal court stated that the case will be announced on the January 2021 calendar.
Tencent and the Ministry of Commerce did not immediately comment.
The Justice Department believes that WeChat and China’s short video sharing app TikTok threaten U.S. national security.
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.
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.
In a similar case, the US Court of Appeals agreed to fast-track the government’s ruling, which prevented the government from banning new TikTok downloads.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
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