Federal Judge Interceeds in WeChat Ban

Issue 37

09.21.20 - WeChat is currently back in business in the U.S. - for now - as a federal judge temporarily blocked an executive order banning downloads of the Chinese based app in the United States. Judge Laurel Beeler, who issued the preliminary injunction, wrote that many U.S. located users had demonstrated serious concerns’ and questions over the orders threat to the user’s First Amendment rights.

"The plaintiffs' evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat," Beeler wrote.

Judge Beeler clarified further that she believes the order cannot escape it’s First Amendment problem under a standard known as immediate scrutiny, which would allow the order to circumvent its First Amendment-based criticism if it can prove that the order is tailored for national security.

The injunction against the ban is following an approved deal involving TikTok, Oracle and Walmart. The Commerce Department recently issued restrictions against both WeChat and TikTok. The implementation of the TikTok ban, however, has been delayed one week when it was originally set to go into effect Sunday evening.

The WeChat ban will now be paused throughout the nation as a result of the injunction. The order both blocks the ban on downloads of WeChat and blocks efforts to restrict internet infrastructure companies from hosting or carrying the messaging and mobile payment app.

Source: New York Times