WeChat Users Group Sues Trump Administration Over 'Unconstitutional' Ban

wechat transparentA group of WeChat users has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in an effort to block an executive order that would ban the app in the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this month, President Trump signed two executive orders that would officially ban any U.S. transactions with ByteDance and Tencent, the Chinese companies that own TikTok and WeChat, respectively. The order will be enacted on September 20, but TikTok can avoid a ban if an American company can agree a deal to acquire its U.S. operations before that date.

Filed by the WeChat Users Alliance and several other plaintiffs in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the lawsuit claims the executive order to ban WeChat is unconstitutional and violates the right to free speech. It also claims the ban illegally targets Chinese-Americans who use WeChat to communicate with Chinese citizens. An attorney for the group, which is made up of people who depend on WeChat for personal and business purposes, says it is hoping that the Trump administration will have to clarify which WeChat transactions would be subject to the ban.

WeChat is extremely popular with Chinese mobile device users, essentially operating as its own platform on top of iOS and Android for many users, but the app is also widely used around the world and has over 1.2 billion monthly active users.

It's still unclear whether the ban applies to the WeChat app only in the United States or if it will result in the removal of the WeChat app from iPhones across the globe. At any rate, any ban would be bad news for Apple. In a worst-case scenario, Apple's annual global iPhone shipments could decline by 25–30% if it is forced to remove WeChat from its App Stores around the world, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In a Weibo survey, 95 percent of the 1.2 million people who responded said they would switch to an Android smartphone over an ‌‌iPhone‌‌ rather than give up WeChat.

Over the weekend, TikTok also confirmed it plans to sue the Trump administration over the executive order, perhaps as early as Monday. ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, is believed to be in talks with Microsoft about the software giant acquiring the app's U.S. operations. Other companies including Twitter are also reportedly in talks with TikTok.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: WeChat

Top Rated Comments

ArPe Avatar
18 months ago
Banning an app that could be used as spyware by a foreign dictatorship isn’t unconstitutional. The Founding Fathers would have done the same thing if such technology existed in their time and the British Empire was spying on Americans to track dissidents.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wowotoe Avatar
18 months ago
how about Facebook, Google, and Youtube in China?
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArPe Avatar
18 months ago

Aren't there many apps that "could be used as spyware"? Wouldn't even your operating system be able to potetnially be used as spyware?
This is a political mess that has definitely affected hundreds of thousand plain innocent people.

Reworked code would solve that, as will the paste notification in Apples current beta iOS14 that notifies a end user of the controversial behaviour of the current app.

What if the whole hype was around an US based company? What about Facebook that has repeatedly breached way more obvious ethical boundaries? Why weren't they forced to stop their activities? not sure I understand. Oh yes, because it is not a "foreign dictatorship", but just a rotten company inside your own country...?
There are serious legal repercussions of implanting spyware in an app and Apple already vets that for apps made in America for example. But when data flows through China then Apple and the US government are powerless. You, a person who had their data collected, are powerless and you cannot even try to sue a company in China. They will simply laugh at you.

if you are a dissident or refugee you also have to pray that a hitman isn’t sent to finish you.

Think of the people who are directly targeted. Many dissidents, defectors and refugees also have their families targeted by such regimes.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
repoman016 Avatar
18 months ago
Apple (bans) removes all vaping apps from the app store and nobody bats an eye. trump wants to remove spyware apps from the chinese government and everyone loses their mind!
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
OlliFlamme Avatar
18 months ago

Banning an app that could be used as spyware by a foreign dictatorship isn’t unconstitutional. The Founding Fathers would have done the same thing if such technology existed in their time and the British Empire was spying on Americans to track dissidents.
Aren't there many apps that "could be used as spyware"? Wouldn't even your operating system be able to potetnially be used as spyware?
This is a political mess that has definitely affected hundreds of thousand plain innocent people.

Reworked code would solve that, as will the paste notification in Apples current beta iOS14 that notifies a end user of the controversial behaviour of the current app.

What if the whole hype was around an US based company? What about Facebook that has repeatedly breached way more obvious ethical boundaries? Why weren't they forced to stop their activities? not sure I understand. Oh yes, because it is not a "foreign dictatorship", but just a rotten company inside your own country...?
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Krizoitz Avatar
18 months ago

Banning an app that could be used as spyware by a foreign dictatorship isn’t unconstitutional. The Founding Fathers would have done the same thing if such technology existed in their time and the British Empire was spying on Americans to track dissidents.
Any application CAN be used as spyware. Banning based on that reason means banning all apps, and all network connected computers for that matter.

Further, your knowledge of history is seriously lacking if you believe the Founding Fathers would ban something based merely on theoretical potential for abuse.

Now if there is actually evidence the app is being used for spying the. You might have a case, but right now there is no evidence of that. Further, many apps can and do legally gather information on people, heck it’s how Facebook and Google keep the lights on. It’s what store discount cards are all about. Credit card companies have done it for decades. Gathering information, especially with consent isn’t necessarily illegal or “spying”.

Is it possible China is leveraging these apps to illegally surveil people in the US? Yes.
Is there reason to be concerned about apps like TikTok? Sure.
Should Trump or any President be able to unilaterally ban an app without legal or judicial process? Absolutely not.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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