Sat, 24 Oct 2020

Fedral judge temporarily blocks US WeChat ban

21 Sep 2020, 04:18 GMT+10

Washington [US], September 20 (ANI): A federal judge has temporarily blocked the US government's attempt to ban the Chinese messaging and payments app WeChat in the United States.

According to CNN, Judge Laurel Beeler wrote that the plaintiffs had shown "serious questions" in their claim that the executive order passed by Trump in August threatens a user's First Amendment (of the US Constitution) rights, which guarantees free speech.

"The plaintiffs' evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat," CNN reported quoting Beeler.

Stating that nor does the order escape First Amendment scrutiny, the judge said the ban on WeChat does not provide enough evidence that it is narrowly tailored to resolve the national security concerns raised by the US government with respect to the app.

"And, as the plaintiffs point out, she wrote, "there are obvious alternatives to a complete ban, such as barring WeChat from government devices, as Australia has done, or taking other steps to address data security."However, the US Department of Commerce on Friday in a statement said, "In response to President Trump's Executive Orders signed August 6, 2020, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) today announced prohibitions on transactions relating to mobile applications (apps) WeChat and TikTok to safeguard the national security of the United States.""While the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, they are similar. Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories. Each is an active participant in China's civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP," it added.

This comes after US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he has approved the purchase of TikTok, a video-sharing app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, to US software company Oracle, with the possible participation of Walmart.

Trump has accused TikTok and WeChat, another social media app that White House officials said will be shut down this Sunday, of being tools of the Chinese Communist Party, which Washington says is bent on stealing the personal data of the US users. (ANI)

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