WeChat Users Group Sues to Block Trump’s Ban of Messaging App

A group of WeChat users asked a federal judge to block the Trump administration from imposing a ban on the Chinese messaging app, saying it would violate their rights.

In a complaint filed Friday in federal court in San Francisco, Chinese-American lawyers who formed the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance alleged President Donald Trump’s planned restriction on the app is unconstitutional. His Aug. 6 order bans Americans from doing business with WeChat and TikTok, another Chinese social-media platform, as of mid-September.

“Neither the Executive Order itself nor the White House provided concrete evidence to support the contention that using WeChat in the United States compromises national security,” the group said in the complaint.

WeChat, owned by Shenzhen, China-based Tencent Holdings Ltd., is used by millions of Americans and U.S. residents to communicate with people whose first language is Chinese, according to the alliance. Trump’s order would effectively ban WeChat’s use in the U.S., including anyone exchanging messages with friends, family or businesses in China, the group said.

Trump’s order reflects growing concern by American authorities that Chinese businesses pose a grave security risk, a claim that has escalated tensions between the two countries and sparked denials from Beijing. Trump also ordered TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDanced Ltd., on Aug. 14 to sell its U.S. assets, with potential buyers Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp. already showing interest.

The president has wide powers under a 1977 law that allows him to declare a national emergency in response to an “unusual and extraordinary threat,” including blocking transactions and seizing assets.

Read More: Why Tencent and WeChat Are Such a Big Deal in China

U.S. companies with operations in China have expressed concern about the WeChat ban because the app is an integral tool for business in the country. Chinese consumers use it for all sorts of transactions, from buying coffee to airline tickets. The Trump administration has signaled U.S. companies may still be able to use the app in China.

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