U.S. judge denies new government bid to remove China's WeChat from U.S. app stores

A U.S. judge in San Francisco on Friday rejected a Justice Department
request to reverse a decision that allowed Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s
Google to continue to offer Chinese-owned WeChat for download in U.S.
app stores.

Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said the government’s new evidence did
not change her opinion about the Tencent app. As it has with Chinese
video app TikTok, the Justice Department has argued WeChat threatens
national security.

has an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States.
It is popular among Chinese students, Americans living in China and some
Americans who have personal or business relationships in China.

is an all-in-one mobile app that combines services similar to Facebook,
WhatsApp, Instagram and Venmo. The app is an essential part of daily
life for many in China and boasts more than 1 billion users.

Justice Department has appealed Beeler’s decision permitting the
continued use of the Chinese mobile app to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court
of Appeals, but no ruling is likely before December.

a suit brought by WeChat users, Beeler last month blocked a U.S.
Commerce Department order set to take effect on Sept. 20 that would have
required the app to be removed from U.S. app stores.

Commerce Department order would also bar other U.S. transactions with
WeChat, potentially making the app unusable in the United States.

record does not support the conclusion that the government has
‘narrowly tailored’ the prohibited transactions to protect its
national-security interests,” Beeler wrote on Friday.

said the evidence “supports the conclusion that the restrictions
‘burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further the
government’s legitimate interests.’”

users argued the government sought “an unprecedented ban of an entire
medium of communication” and offered only “speculation” of harm from
Americans’ use of WeChat.

a similar case, a U.S. appeals court agreed to fast-track a government
appeal of a ruling blocking the government from banning new downloads
from U.S. app stores of Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok.

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