WeChat Group and TikTok Are Suing the Trump Administration Over App Bans

wechat

The United States government is facing lawsuits over President Donald Trump’s executive order banning transactions with the Chinese owners of TikTok and WeChat.

Trump’s ban: On August 6, Trump ordered Americans and U.S. companies not to conduct business with the companies behind the popular apps, citing “national security” concerns.

  • Trump alleged that TikTok is a “national emergency” as it can be used by the Chinese Communist Party for its benefit.
  • He said the U.S. “must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security.”
  • Trump similarly accused WeChat of capturing “vast swaths of information from its users.” 
  • He said that WeChat’s collected data “allows the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.“
  • The order, which affects TikTok, its parent company ByteDance, WeChat and its parent company Tencent Holdings, is set to take effect on September 20.

TikTok’s response: Following weeks of rumors, TikTok confirmed on Saturday that it is responding to the order with a lawsuit against the Trump administration.

  • TikTok spokesman Josh Gartner said the company has been trying to engage with the administration for almost a year so they may arrive at a “constructive solution.”
  • “What we encountered instead was a lack of due process as the administration paid no attention to facts and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses,” Gartner told The Verge.
  • According to Gartner, they are forced to  challenge the executive order through the judicial system “to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and users are treated fairly.”

Alliance of WeChat users: Nonprofit U.S. WeChat Users Alliance as well as other individual users filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government in San Francisco on Friday, reports The Wall Street Journal.

  • Based on court documents, the plaintiffs fear that Trump’s executive order would effectively prohibit them from accessing the messaging app. 
  • Many of them say that they rely on the app for work, worship or communicating with their loved ones in China.
  • According to the plaintiffs, such a ban is a violation of their freedom of speech, free exercise of religion and other constitutional rights.

Online gaming company Tencent launched WeChat as an instant messaging app in 2011 but has since evolved into a multi-featured app used by over a billion users worldwide. Meanwhile, ByteDance launched the short video-sharing app TikTok in 2016. According to estimates, the app now has over 800 million global users.

Feature Image via Getty

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