Federal Judge Blocks the Trump Ban on WeChat

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The suit was brought by users of WeChat in the US where they challenged the constitutionality of the Executive order which was passed banning all transactions relating to WeChat. The reasoning given by the government was that of national security,

Background

WeChat is a mobile app that is developed by a Chinese company Tencent Holdings Ltd., it has over a billion users all over the world and nearly 19 million regular users in the US alone. The executive order that President Trump passed directed that Secretary of Commerce to identify the transactions which were prohibited. The Secretary’s identification was a blanket ban on the working of the entire app. Internet services or distributors like the App Store and play store were banned from allowing downloads of the said app.

Arguments

The primary contentions of the plaintiffs are that the users of this app in the United States of America mainly the Chinese-American and the Chinese- speaking community have WeChat as their only means of communication to China. Other apps cannot replace the practical interface or the cultural relevance of the people in the US with China. They also contend that the ban violates their First Amendment Rights, Fifth Amendment rights, and the religious freedom restoration act in addition to many other economic and administrative laws.

Court’s Opinion

The Court was in the opinion that the government has does not have meaningful evidence that is put forth to prove the national security concerns or the effects of the “prohibited transactions” and its content. The elimination of communication will result in the censorship of speech and restraint on the expression which is violative of fundamental rights.

Court’s Decision

US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler granted a preliminary injunction against President Donald Trump’s Executive Order which prohibited transactions related to WeChat.


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