An order by the US government which would have forced Apple and Google to suspend offering downloads of Chinese messaging WeChat in the US was halted by a judge on Sunday just hours before it was due to take effect.
Donald Trump’s administration had introduced an order aimed at blocking new downloads of WeChat and viral video app TikTok over national security concerns rising from their use of data.
But US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler ruled that a group of WeChat users who challenged the ban in court “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim, the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs favor.”
The US government said on Monday that it will challenge the judge's suspension of its ban on WeChat downloads. “Prohibiting the identified transactions is necessary to protect the national security of the United States, and the department expects to soon seek relief from this order,” the US Department of Commerce said in a statement.
The challenge to the ban was brought by a non-profit organisation named the US WeChat Users Alliance which has claimed that a ban on the messaging app “will severely affect the lives and the work of millions of people in the US. They will have a difficult time talking to family relatives and friends back in China.”
The judge also blocked a series of measures planned by the US government including blocking WeChat from hosting data in the US and accessing American cloud technologies which would have helped the app to continue running properly.
A suspension of the ban on new downloads of WeChat comes after the US government delayed a similar ban on downloads of TikTok after the app’s parent company announced a deal with Oracle.
It has partnered with the American software business and will move its 100 million American users to a new US-headquartered business named TikTok Global. Oracle will have an ownership stake in the business and will control the hosting of the user data.
In response, the US Department of Commerce delayed its implementation of a ban on new downloads of TikTok to September 27 from its original date of September 20.