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Federal judge temporarily halts Trump administration ban on downloads of Chinese app WeChat

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 9/20/2020 Anthony Leonardi
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A federal judge put a temporary stop to an order from the Trump administration that would have removed the Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat from application stores.

U.S. District Court Judge Laurel Beeler granted a preliminary injunction late Saturday to the "U.S. WeChat Users Alliance," a group that sued after the Commerce Department presented new rules that would prevent the app from appearing on U.S. app stores after midnight on Sunday. The California judge determined it would harm the plaintiff's First Amendment rights.

"The court grants the motion on the ground that the plaintiffs have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim, the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs’ favor, and the plaintiffs establish sufficiently the other elements for preliminary-injunctive relief," the court document reads.

Beeler said the order would "burden substantially more speech than is necessary to serve the government’s significant interest in national security, especially given the lack of substitute channels for communication" in response to concerns from the government in the matter.

On Friday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that the rules targeting WeChat would "protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party" and would "combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”

The Chinese-owned app, which allows users to pay bills, order food, make travel arrangements, and shop online, is heavily censored within China. Leaders in the Chinese government have used the application to monitor dissidents and critics of the Chinese Communist Party, some of whom have been arrested for their posts on the app.

The Trump administration laid out a road map for a clampdown on popular video sharing app TikTok. On Saturday, however, President Trump said he gave his "blessing" to a proposed deal between computer software company Oracle and retail giant Walmart to control TikTok operations in the United States.

"I have given the deal my blessing," Trump said. "If they get it done, that's great. If they don't, that's OK too."

Tags: News, Court, Law, China, Social Media, National Security

Original Author: Anthony Leonardi

Original Location: Federal judge temporarily halts Trump administration ban on downloads of Chinese app WeChat

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