U.S. Appeals Injunction Against WeChat Ban

WASHINGTON — The federal government on Friday appealed a judge’s ruling that prevented the Trump administration from imposing a ban on WeChat, the popular Chinese-owned messaging app.

The Justice Department said in a short filing that it was appealing a preliminary injunction issued by Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler of U.S. District Court for the North District of California. Mollie Timmons, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, declined to comment further. The appeal was made to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The decision to appeal the preliminary injunction blocking the ban escalates the battle over the future of WeChat, owned by the Chinese company Tencent Holdings. Officials in Washington have increasingly looked to stop people in the United States from using Chinese-owned apps like WeChat and TikTok, and have worked to banish Chinese telecommunications products from American networks.

Judge Beeler granted a preliminary injunction because there were “serious questions going to the merits” of their argument that the ban violated the First Amendment. A Department of Justice lawyer argued in the case that the rules were narrowly written to protect the rights of WeChat’s users to share personal and business information.

“We don’t think that they’ve raised any basis for Judge Beeler’s well-reasoned opinion to be disturbed or stayed pending appeal,” said Michael Bien, a lawyer for the WeChat users. He said the government had “once again” discounted First

U.S. appeals judge’s ruling to block WeChat app store ban

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Friday said it was appealing a judge’s decision to block the government from barring Apple Inc <AAPL.O> and Alphabet Inc’s <GOOGL.O> Google from offering Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat for download in U.S. app stores.

The government said it was appealing to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the Sept. 19 preliminary junction issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler. The injunction blocked the U.S. Commerce Department order, which would also bar other U.S. transactions with Tencent Holding’s <0700.HK> WeChat, potentially making the app unusable in the United States.

A U.S. spokesman for Tencent did not immediately comment.

The Justice Department said earlier that Beeler’s order was in error and “permits the continued, unfettered use of WeChat, a mobile application that the Executive Branch has determined constitutes a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

Lawyers for the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance, the group behind the legal challenge to the WeChat ban, earlier questioned the urgency of the government’s request for Beeler to stay her ruling.

Beeler said WeChat users who filed a lawsuit “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim.” The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech.

WeChat has had an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States, analytics firms Apptopia said in early August. It is popular among Chinese students, Americans living in China and some Americans 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.

A U.S. judge in Washington on Sunday issued a

WeChat sets the record straight for its 690,000 Aussie users

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The Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media has been tasked with probing the risk posed to the nation’s democracy by foreign interference through social media.

Twitter, Google, Tiktok, and Facebook have previously made submissions to the inquiry, with the plan for representatives from each of the social media platforms to eventually face the committee.

TikTok was probed on Friday, using its time to clarify data protection rules, its plans to prevent distressing videos from being viewed on its platform, and how it wasn’t asked to provide assistance to a government investigation, among other things. Facebook was due to appear alongside TikTok, but blamed a scheduling issue for pulling out.

The latest submission [PDF] to the committee as part of its inquiry comes from the Middle Kingdom, by way of popular chat app WeChat.

WeChat is owned and operated by WeChat International Pte Ltd, an entity incorporated in Singapore. WeChat International is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tencent Holdings Limited, which is a global technology giant incorporated in the Cayman Islands and listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.

Globally, WeChat boasts over 1.2 billion monthly active users. As at 21 September 2020, WeChat had approximately 690,000 daily active users in Australia.

US President Donald Trump in August claimed that apps developed in China are a threat to national security, making an executive order to ban WeChat alongside TikTok. Although that ban was later blocked by the US district court, WeChat has taken the opportunity in its submission to the Australian committee to explain how western users of the app are treated differently to those in mainland China.

Firstly, the specific app used is regional.

WeChat is operated by WeChat International, and is designed for users outside of mainland China. It said WeChat is

TikTok, WeChat Security Threat Has Yet to Be Proven, Judges Say

(Bloomberg) — Two federal judges have ruled this month that the Trump administration failed to prove Chinese-owned apps used by millions of Americans pose enough of a national security threat to justify a U.S. ban.



graphical user interface, application, chat or text message: TikTok Branding As Oracle Is Said to Win Deal For US Operations


© Bloomberg
TikTok Branding As Oracle Is Said to Win Deal For US Operations

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington said in a court filing Monday that he blocked a ban on new downloads of ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok because the government has likely overstepped its authority under the emergency-powers law it invoked to justify the prohibition. On Sept. 19, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco blocked a similar ban on Tencent Holding Ltd.’s WeChat.

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The court decisions show that, while judges may agree with the notion that China poses a threat, the administration hasn’t yet shown that the apps themselves are a problem. It’s at least a temporary setback for President Donald Trump, who has argued that the Chinese owners of TikTok and WeChat are collecting personal data on Americans.

Nichols acknowledged in his ruling that the U.S. provided “ample evidence” that China is a risk to national security, but said the government’s evidence of the threat posed by TikTok “remains less substantial.”

Beeler reached a similar conclusion. “While the government has established that China’s activities raise significant national security concerns — it has put in scant little evidence that its effective ban of WeChat for all U.S. users addresses those concerns,” she said in her Sept. 19 order.

Both companies sued to delay the bans and then asked judges for more time to resolve the disputes.

U.S. Opposition

In the WeChat case, the U.S. government said in a court filing it will submit classified information to support its request that Beeler lift her injunction blocking the ban. The Trump