US WeChat users sue Trump over order banning messaging app

2020-08-24 02:55:38 GMT2020-08-24 10:55:38(Beijing Time) Sina English

Some US-based users of WeChat are suing President Donald Trump in a bid to block an executive order that they say would effectively bar access in the US to the popular Chinese messaging app.

The complaint, filed on Friday in San Francisco, is being brought by the nonprofit US WeChat Users Alliance and several people who say they rely on the app for work, worship and staying in touch with relatives in China. The plaintiffs said they are not affiliated with WeChat, nor its parent company, Tencent Holdings.

In the lawsuit, they asked a federal court judge to stop Trump’s executive order from being enforced, claiming it would violate its US users’ freedom of speech, free exercise of religion and other constitutional rights.

“We think there’s a First Amendment interest in providing continued access to that app and its functionality to the Chinese-American community,” Michael Bien, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, said on Saturday.

Trump on August 6 ordered sweeping but vague bans on transactions with the Chinese owners of WeChat and another popular short video app, TikTok, out of “national security” concerns.

The twin executive orders — one for each app — are expected to take effect from September 20, or 45 days from when they were issued. The orders call on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who is also named as a defendant in the US WeChat Users Alliance lawsuit, to define the banned dealings by that time.

It remains unclear what the orders will mean for the apps’ millions of users in the US, but experts have said the orders appear intended to bar WeChat and TikTok from the app stores run by Apple and Google.


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