Crime & Justice

US court blocks govt’s fresh attempt to ban WeChat

San Francisco, US, Oct 23 (efe-epa).- The same United States judge who a month ago blocked President Donald Trump’s order to ban downloads of Chinese messaging app WeChat, once again on Friday halted a fresh attempt by the federal administration.

Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler of the Northern District Court of California in San Francisco ruled that the new evidence provided by the government did not significantly change the substance of the matter and refused the government’s motion to stay the preliminary injunction on banning WeChat.

On Sep. 20, just a few hours before the ban came into effect, Beeler ruled against Trump’s executive order on the matter, considering that it was not proven that banning WeChat downloads in the US would be beneficial to the country’s national security.

“The government’s additional evidence does not alter the court’s previous holding that the plaintiffs are entitled to a preliminary injunction,” the judge said in her ruling Friday.

“As the court held previously, the government’s prohibited transactions are not narrowly tailored to address the government’s significant interest in national security,” the ruling added.

She further pointed out that there could be alternatives to a complete ban on WeChat, such as banning it from use in government devices – as in the case of Australia – or incorporating further measures for data protection.

“Requiring industry best practices as part of a mitigation plan would allow the continued use of the platform, arguably addresses the government’s national-security interests, and leaves open adequate channels for communication,” the ruling said.

The decision in September and this one represent a victory for the Chinese tech firm Tencent Holdings – owner of WeChat – and the US WeChat Users Alliance, an organization that claims it is not linked to the company that filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in August.

Both WeChat and the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok have been targeted by the US government in its fight against Beijing’s interference in the country.

However, both applications are still available for download and use after their respective bans were overturned by the courts. EFE-EPA

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