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Judge In WeChat Case Says She Won’t Lift Block On Temporary US Ban

A San Francisco judge said she’s not likely to lift a temporary block on the US government’s attempts to ban WeChat. US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said the US government did not present new evidence to persuade her of significant national security concerns about WeChat remaining active in the US.

 

Beeler said that a group of WeChat users had raised ‘serious questions’ that the ban could violate their First Amendment rights. The group said banning the app in the US would violate users’ free speech rights, specifically targeting Chinese Americans.

 

The group argues, that WeChat is the primary way Chinese speakers in the US participate in social life. They also use it to receive news, conduct phone calls, videoconferences, upload documents, photos, and make payments. The app has 19 million users in the US and 1 billion users around the world.

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The US government still considers WeChat’s parent company, Tencent a security risk. Justice Department attorney Serena Orloff said that Tencent can collect a ‘digital facsimile of a person’s life’ on WeChat.

 

The administration believes that Tencent’s close relationship with the Chinese Communist Party means that it can hand over these data to the Chinese government. Meanwhile, the justice department argued there are other apps with similar functions to WeChat that are widely available.

 

Beerler’s previous order had blocked the US Commerce Department’s ban on all WeChat US transactions. In the order, she said that although the US government says it has identified significant threats to national security, there is “scant little evidence that its effective ban of WeChat for all US users addresses those concerns,”.

 

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Kolawole Awolope

Passionate about talking, passionate about talking tech.

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