Judge Not Inclined To Allow WeChat Ban During Appeal

U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said she likely won't allow restrictions on WeChat while the U.S. government appeals her earlier decision to block them, Bloomberg reported.

Beeler said Thursday (Oct. 15) she probably isn't going to grant the government a stay pending appeal on the case, as the evidence provided that WeChat poses national security concerns hasn't convinced her, according to Bloomberg.

Instead, she said the banning of WeChat would infringe on the free speech of millions of Chinese-speaking Americans who use the app to communicate with others, Bloomberg reported. She has not given a final ruling yet.

The President Donald Trump administration has said WeChat, along with TikTok, are threats to national security as they could be used by the Chinese government to access users' private information.

With WeChat specifically, the administration has said it is concerned about parent company Tencent Holdings, which it has said is connected closely with China's communist government. Justice Department lawyer Serena Orloff said the amount of data the Chinese government could potentially access is "massive," Bloomberg reported, including doctors' appointments and medical data. She said it "generates a digital facsimile of a person's life."

The administration wants to remove the apps from app stores, which would both prevent new sign-ups and also block current users from accessing new updates.

On Sept. 20, Beeler blocked the bans that the U.S. Commerce Department, the same day they were supposed to go into effect.

WeChat is a "super app" which boasts messaging, mobile payments and social media functions. It has 1 billion users worldwide and 19 million regular U.S. users, Bloomberg reported.

The proposed ban of WeChat could hurt eCommerce by affecting those who use the apps to conduct financial transactions, PYMNTS reported, including a large swathe of Chinese nationals living or working in the U.S.

In response to the proposed bans, a Chinese official at a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting this month said the move would violate the rules of the WTO by restricting trade and going against the organization's basic principles.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.