Trump administration challenges order that blocked WeChat app store ban

Wilbur Ross, U.S. commerce secretary, testifies before the House Committee on Appropriations in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

Sarah Silbiger | Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Trump administration will challenge an order issued over the weekend that halted the Commerce Department’s ban on downloads of the Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler on Sunday halted a move that would have forced Apple and Google to remove Tencent‘s WeChat for downloads by Sunday evening. Users who had already downloaded the app would have found it largely unusable. 

“Prohibiting the identified transactions is necessary to protect the national security of the United States, and the department expects to soon seek relief from this order,” the Commerce Department said, according to Reuters.

The Department previously said it anticipated a long legal battle over the ban.

The Trump administration on Friday sought to ban downloads of WeChat and ByteDance-owned TikTok from operating in the United States, starting Sunday, over alleged national security concerns. But a deal on Saturday between TikTok-owner ByteDance and Oracle/Walmart allows the TikTok app operate as normal for now.

In the deal, Oracle will be TikTok’s secure cloud provider and will a minority investor with a 12.5% stake. Walmart tentatively agreed to purchase a 7.5% stake in the short-form video social media app. TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance will own the remaining 80% of TikTok Global.

There was new confusion over the terms of the deal on Monday morning, however, when President Trump suggested ByteDance won’t have any control over TikTok Global. “They will have nothing to do with it, and if they do we just won’t make a deal,” Trump said on Fox & Friends Monday morning.

Washington has repeatedly warned against Beijing’s alleged intellectual property threat, which China has denied. 

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