WeChat remains available on the App Store as US judge blocks download ban

The Trump government’s planned block of China’s most popular all-in-one app, WeChat, on the US App Store that the Commerce Department said was meant to “safeguard” national security was temporarily blocked by a US judge who on Sunday ordered a temporary injunction on the side of the app’s users.

As a result, WeChat continues to be available to download from the App Store.

According to a Reuters report yesterday, US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler of San Francisco stopped the Trump administration from forcing Apple and Google to remove Tencent Holdings’ messaging app from their respective app stores.

She said in an order that WeChat users who filed a lawsuit “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim, the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs’ favor.”

The Justice Department responded by arguing that the judge’s order would “frustrate and displace the president’s determination of how best to address threats to national security.” Additionally, the decision blocks other restrictions imposed by the Trump administration on WeChat.

WeChat is the most popular app in China because it combines virtually everything users need in a single place, from messaging and mobile payments to gaming, productivity, social and so forth.

Last Friday, the Commerce Department argued that China’s Communist Party “has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy and the economy of the US.”

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross argued in a statement that the government has decided to take “significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms and aggressive enforcement of US laws and regulations.”

A survey conducted on Weibo last month suggested that a staggering number of Chinese users would abandon the iPhone if they lost access to WeChat. A whopping 1.2 million responded to the survey, saying they would switch to an Android phone if it meant that was the way they could access WeChat.