Judge Rejects US Governments Appeal On WeChat Ban

WeChat has an average of 19 million daily active users in the US

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U.S. Judge Laurel Beeler rejected a Justice Department request Friday, which seeked to overturn a decision that allowed the Tencent backed app WeChat to stay on App Stores in the country.

The U.S Justice Department argues that WeChat is a national security threat just like ByteDance’s TikTok, but judge Beeler is not convinced. She said that the new evidence provided by the government did not change her opinion about the app.

WeChat is a Chinese app developed by Tencent, serving multiple purposes app, including messaging, social-media and mobile payments. It has over a billion monthly active users. The app has been widely adopted in its home country, and remains popular among Chinese students studying in U.S.

In China, WeChat goes by the name ‘Weixin’ and according to Tencent, it differs in its functionality to a certain degree. This allows the company to create country specific features, by having two separate versions: international (WeChat) and China-only (Weixin). It is similar to how ByteDance’s international app TikTok has a China-specific version which operates under the name ‘Douyin’.

The government’s attempt to ban WeChat initially began with President Trump’s executive order, which sought to ban ByteDance’s TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat. The ban was put on hold by Laurel Beeler after WeChat users filed a lawsuit, which prevented the ban on WeChat from taking effect on 20th Sept.

WeChat users have argued that the government is seeking to ban their entire medium of communication, and that it is basing this decision only on speculations. Beeler had said that the users “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim, the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs’ favour.”

The Justice Department has appealed Beeler’s decision to the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals, but a decision is not expected before December.

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