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Judge Blocks Commerce Department’s Ban On New WeChat Downloads

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A California judge has blocked the Commerce Department’s ban on new downloads of WeChat. According to Reuters, US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said in her ruling that WeChat users showed “serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim, the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs’ favor.

 

A group of WeChat users by the name, The WeChat Alliance, filed a lawsuit in August 2020, arguing that the ban would violate users’ due process and free speech rights.

 

The lawsuit alleges that the ban potentially targeted Chinese-Americans. Because, WeChat is, “the primary app Chinese-speakers in the U.S. use to participate in social life by connecting with loved ones, sharing special moments, arguing ideas, receiving up-to-the-minute news, and participating in political discussions and advocacy.” The group is allegedly not affiliated with the company in any official capacity.

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The US Commerce Department had issued a new order to bar downloads of both TikTok and WeChat in the US. US users would have been unable to download the apps from Apple and Google’s app stores if had taken effect.

 

TikTok appeared to have escaped the ban with a new entity, TikTok Global, a partnership with Oracle and Walmart. The Commerce Department had postponed the TikTok ban until 27th September 2020 after President Trump gave the deal a green light. “I have given the deal my blessing,” President Trump said.

 

The ruling also blocked the Commerce Department’s order that was to ban US transactions on WeChat. Beeler wrote that there’s “scant little evidence”  that banning the app would address national security concerns.

 

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