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The US government says the upcoming WeChat ban is not targeted at users



Tencent Holdings Ltd. The WeChat app will appear in the App Store on a smartphone on an arranged photo taken in Arlington, Virginia, on Friday, August 7, 2020.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A threatening US ban on the Chinese app WeChat does not target people who use the app to communicate, according to a government court that filed Wednesday.

President Donald Trump issued orders on August 6 targeting WeChat and TikTok as alleged national security threats and introducing a Sept. 20 deadline for the Department of Commerce to draw up specific measures to block “transactions”

; with Chinese app owners.

The nonprofit American WeChat Users Alliance and several people who say they trust the app for work, worship and keeping in touch with relatives in China sued to stop the ban in federal court in California. The case states that the ban violates the freedom of expression of its American users, the free exercise of religion and other constitutional rights.

WeChat users who say they are not affiliated with WeChat or its parent company, Tencent, are requesting an order for the order, and a hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

WeChat users in the US rely on the app to talk to friends, family and colleagues in China, where the messaging, payment and social media app is widespread. It has millions of users in the United States

The Justice Department said in Wednesday’s filing that the Department of Commerce “does not intend to take actions directed at individuals or groups whose sole connection to WeChat is their use or download of the app to convey personal or business information between users.” It added that such users would not be subject to “criminal or civil liability”.

The government archiving said that using and downloading the app to communicate will not be a prohibited transaction, although messages in the app may be “directly or indirectly weakened” by the ban.

The Justice Department filing said these “insurances largely address” concerns raised by the plaintiffs, who called for injunctions.

The lead lawyer for WeChat users, Michael Bien, said in an interview that the plaintiffs will file a response later on Wednesday.


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