Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat app is displayed in the App Store on a smartphone in an organized photograph taken in Arlington, Virginia on Friday, August 7, 2020.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A looming U.S. ban on China’s WeChat app won’t target people who use the app to communicate, according to a government court filing Wednesday.
On August 6, President Donald Trump issued orders targeting WeChat and TikTok as alleged national security threats and setting the Commerce Department a September 20 deadline to work out specific measures to block “transactions”
The US nonprofit WeChat Users Alliance and several people who claim to rely on the app for work, worship, and staying in touch with relatives in China have filed a lawsuit to stop the ban in federal court in California. The lawsuit claims that the ban violates its US users’ free speech, free exercise of religion, and other constitutional rights.
WeChat users, who claim they are not affiliated with WeChat or its parent company, Tencent, are seeking an injunction against the order and a hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
WeChat users in the US depend on the app to talk to friends, family and colleagues in China, where the messaging, payments and social media app is widely used. It has several million users in the United States
The Department of Justice said in Wednesday’s statement that the Commerce Department “does not intend to take actions that could target individuals or groups whose only connection with WeChat is their use or download of the app to transmit personal or business information. between users “. He added that such users would not be exposed to “criminal or civil liability”.
The government statement said using and downloading the app to communicate will not be a prohibited transaction, although messaging on the app could be “directly or indirectly compromised” by the ban.
The Department of Justice filing said these “assurances largely address” concerns raised by plaintiffs seeking an injunction.
Lead attorney for WeChat users, Michael Bien, said in an interview that the plaintiffs will submit an answer Wednesday later.