A judge in the United States has blocked the ban on the Chinese chat app WeChat in app stores. The US Department of Commerce had warned Google and Apple to remove the app from US download stores before midnight, as data could fall into Chinese hands. According to the Trump administration, the app poses a threat to American national security.
According to a federal judge in San Francisco, freedom of speech is endangered by a ban on the app. In addition, there is only a “modest amount” of evidence that Americans are actually at risk, the judge said.
More than a chat app
WeChat has about 19 million active users every day in the US. The app is mainly popular among Chinese students, Americans living in China or having personal or business relationships there. WeChat is not only an important chat app, but also the operating system of many users in China. They can also use it to make purchases and arrange insurance and banking matters.
Stakeholders filed a lawsuit over fear that they would no longer be able to interact with their families in China, which they believe infringes on freedom of expression. The app is used by most of the Chinese. Many Western apps and social media have been banned by Beijing, making WeChat one of the few ways for Chinese-speaking Americans to send messages to friends and acquaintances.
The ban also applied to video app TikTok, but has been postponed by a week due to an agreement with the American software company Oracle and Walmart department store. In the meantime, the deal must be finalized.