Smartphone messaging app WeChat has averted a U.S. ban.
A federal judge in California temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s executive order preventing Americans’ use of WeChat, a social network owned by Shenzhen, China-based Tencent Holdings TCEHY.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler entered the order Sunday for a preliminary injunction blocking the federal ban on U.S. downloads from going into effect, which was slated for 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
The move essentially prevents the Commerce Department from forcing Apple and Alphabet’s Google to remove Tencent Holding’s WeChat from its app stores.
The news is a victory for Tencent, a tech giant under the helm of CEO Ma Huateng. Like TikTok's owner, Beijing-based ByteDance, the company faced scrutiny from the Trump adminstration that the service was a "natonal security" risk.
U.S. President Donald Trump maintained that the data WeChat collects from U.S users could be tapped by the Chinese government.
Judge Beeler countered by explaining that the "specific evidence about WeChat is modest."
In a 22-page order, Judge Beeler said "there are no viable substitute platforms or apps for the Chinese-speaking and Chinese-American community."
WeChat has about 19 million users in the U.S. and more than 1.2 billion users world-wide.
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