While the Trump administration has tried hard to ban WeChat in recent months, it seems that the chances of completing this goal are quite low. On September 20, a San Francisco judge granted a preliminary injunction, which stopped the government from blocking the app in the US.
The judge stated that she won’t lift the injunction for now, arguing that the Trump administration failed to bring new evidence that would justify national security concerns or the need to let millions of people without access to the popular app.
An executive order was signed by President Trump in August, arguing that the app should be banned. The executive order is based on the Emergency Economic Powers Act and the National Emergencies Act. This strategy was criticized heavily by the WeChat Users Alliance, a group of users who argue that it breaks First Amendment rights.
Members of the WeChat Users Alliance argue that the popular app is the only app in the US that allows Chinese speakers to enjoy a social life in their native language as they can share posts with friends and family, perform calls and make international payments easily.
WeChat has more than 19 million users in the US and more than 1 billion at a global level. Since the pandemic started, it has been used by some police departments to share important information about testing locations, and it also allows families to socialize with relatives placed in nursing homes.
The US government doesn’t have an issue with the app itself, as the measure targets Tencent, the parent company of the app. A Justice Department spokesperson has mentioned that WeChat collects data that can be sent by Tencent to the Chinese government and that the company is too close to the Communist Party.
For now, the app remains usable, but only time will tell what will happen.