On Friday, a Californian District Court judge has denied the U.S. government’s initiative to stay the preliminary injunction on banning social media and messaging payment app WeChat, which is owned by the Chinese company Tencent.
Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler of Northern District California has ruled the government’s additional evidence didn’t amend the court’s preceding, which states that WeChat users based in the U.S. are entitled to undergo a preliminary injunction.
“The record does not support the conclusion that the government has ‘narrowly tailored’ the prohibited transactions to protect its national security interests… [The evidence] supports the conclusion that the restrictions’ burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s legitimate interests.'”Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler
President Donald Trump issued on August 6 an executive order putting WeChat under fire, citing the Chinese-owned app’s threat to national security. The move prompted the U.S. Department of Commerce to propose an action to remove WeChat from the app store and disallow money transfers via the app.
Following the government’s orders, it didn’t escape the Chinese-American community’s ire, using the app to get news updates and stay connected with their Chinese families.
On September 20, Judge Beeler temporarily put on halt President Trump’s executive order against WeChat after issuing an order to allow them to move for the preliminary injunction.
“The result is that consumers in the U.S. cannot download or update the WeChat app, use it to send or receive money, and – because U.S. support for the app by data hosting and content caching will be eliminated – the app, while perhaps technically available to existing U.S. users, likely will be useless to them.”Judge Beeler
Justice Department attorney Serena Orloff earlier said that Tencent could collect a “digital facsimile of a person’s life” using WeChat, emphasizing its claim that the giant Chinese company has ties with the Chinese Communist Party.
Beeler’s previous order enabled WeChat to regain access to U.S. money transactions, lifting the Commerce Department’s blocking. The magistrate judge also doesn’t believe that there are significant national security threats, despite government claims.
She also said that WeChat Alliance, a group composed of WeChat users, disclosing severe concerns that the ban would go against their First Amendment rights. Beeler’s decision is currently appealed to the Ninth Circuit by the Justice Department, but in the meantime, they will have to wait for a decision to come out until December.