US government says upcoming WeChat ban will not target users

The Tencent Holdings Limited WeChat app is displayed in the App Store on a smartphone in an orderly photo taken on Friday, August 7, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg Getty Images

According to a government court, the US ban on Chinese app WeChat on Wednesday will not target those who use the app.

President Donald Trump issued orders on 6 August that WeChat and TikTok were targeted as national security threats and that the Commerce Department drafted specific measures to prevent “transactions” with Chinese owners of apps September 20 was the deadline.

The nonprofit American WeChat User Alliance and many people who say they trust the app for work, worship and keep in contact with relatives in China sue to ban the ban in federal court in California . The lawsuit states that the ban violates its American users’ freedom of speech, independent practice of religion, and other constitutional rights.

WeChat users, who say they are not affiliated with WeChat or its parent company, Tencent, are seeking an injunction against the order and a hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

WeChat users in the US rely on the app to talk to friends, family and colleagues in China, where messaging, payment, and social media apps are widely used. It has several million users in the US

The Department of Justice said in the filing on Wednesday that the Commerce Department “does not intend to take actions that would target individuals or groups whose only connection with WeChat is the use or download of the app to convey personal or business information among users” is.” It added that such users would not be exposed as “criminal or civil liability”.

Government filings said that using and downloading the app to communicate would not be a restricted transaction, although the app may be “directly or indirectly impaired” by the ban.

The Department of Justice filing said these “assurances substantially” address concerns raised by plaintiffs who have called for injunctions.

The lead lawyer for WeChat users, Michael Bien, said in an interview that the plaintiffs would file a response on Wednesday.


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