US judge orders Commerce Department to remove WeChat from App Store

US judge orders Commerce Department to remove WeChat from App Store

Washington: A US judge early Sunday asked the Commerce Department to require Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc Google to remove Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat from download until late Sunday.
US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler Inn San francisco One order stated that the lawsuit that WeChat users filed “has shown serious questions on the merits of the First Amendment claim, balancing suggestions of difficulties in favor of the plaintiff.”
On Friday, the Commerce Department issued an order citing national security grounds to block the app from US app stores owned by Tencent Holdings and the Department of Justice urging Beeler not to block the order.
Beeler’s initial injunction also blocked a commercial order prohibiting other transactions with WeChat in the United States that could reduce the site’s usability for current US users. The US Department of Commerce did not immediately comment.
Analytics firms Aptia 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 professional relationships in China.
The Justice Department blocked the order, saying it “would frustrate and displace the president’s determination to address threats to national security.” But Beeler said “while the general evidence about the threat to national security related to China (about technology and mobile technology) is considerable, the specific evidence about WeChat is minor.”
He said that “regulation – which eliminates a channel of communication with no clear choice – is more a burden of speech than necessary to advance the government’s vital interest.”
WeChat is an all-in-one mobile app that combines services such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Venmo. The application is an essential part of daily life for many people in China and boasts over 1 billion users.
The WeChat Users Alliance, which hailed the “ruling” as an important and hard-won “for millions of WeChat users in America”.
Michael Byn, an advocate for users, said, “The United States has never shut down a major platform for communications, not even during wartime. There are serious First Amendment problems with the WeChat ban, which Chinese Americans Target the community. ”
He stated in the order, “The freedom to speak on his First Amendment, to worship, to read and to react to the press and to organize for many purposes was guaranteed.”

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