A judge has approved a request from a group of US WeChat users to delay looming federal government restrictions that could effectively make the popular app nearly impossible to use, the AP reports. In a ruling dated Saturday, Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in California said the government's actions would affect users' First Amendment rights, as an effective ban on the app would remove their platform for communication. WeChat is a messaging-focused app popular with many Chinese-speaking Americans that serves as a lifeline to friends, family, customers, and business contacts in China. It's owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent.
The group of WeChat users requested an injunction after the US Commerce Department said Friday it would bar WeChat from US app stores and keep it from accessing essential internet services in the country beginning Sunday at 11:59pm. The Trump administration has targeted WeChat and another Chinese-owned app, TikTok, for national security and data privacy concerns, in the latest flashpoint amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing. The administration contends that the data of US users collected by the two apps could be shared with the Chinese government. (On Saturday, President Trump said he supported a proposed deal that would have TikTok partner with Oracle and WalMart to form a US company.)