A US judge blocked the Trump administration from requiring Apple Inc to remove Chinese owned messaging app WeChat for downloads by late Sunday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Neeler in San Francisco said in am order that WeChat users who filed a lawsuit ‘have shown serious questions going to the merits of the first amendment claim’.
On Friday, the U.S commerce department had issued a order citing national security grounds to block the app from U.S. app stores owned by Tencent Holding and the justice department had urged Beeler not to block the order.
Beeler’s preliminary injunction also blocked the commerce order that would have barred other transactions with WeChat in the united states that could have dramatically degraded the site’s usability for current U.S. users or potentially made it unusable.
WeChat has had an average of 19 million daily active users in the united states. It is popular among Chinese students, American’s living in china and some American’s who have personal or business relationships in china.
WeChat is an all-in-one mobile app that combines services similar to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and venmo. The app is an essential part of daily life for many in china and boasts more than 1 billion users. The justice department also argued that WeChat users could switch to other apps or platforms.
Michael Bien, a lawyer for the users, said that the united states has never shut down a major platform for communications, not even during war times. There are serious first amendment problems with the WeChat ban, which targets the Chinese American community. He added, trampled on their first amendment guaranteed freedoms to speak, to worship, to read and react to the press, and to organize and associate for numerous purposes.