A group of WeChat users has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in an effort to block an executive order that would ban the app in the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Earlier this month, President Trump signed two executive orders that would officially ban any U.S. transactions with ByteDance and Tencent, the Chinese companies that own TikTok and WeChat, respectively. The order will be enacted on September 20, but TikTok can avoid a ban if an American company can agree a deal to acquire its U.S. operations before that date.
Filed by the WeChat Users Alliance and several other plaintiffs in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the lawsuit claims the executive order to ban WeChat is unconstitutional and violates the right to free speech. It also claims the ban illegally targets Chinese-Americans who use WeChat to communicate with Chinese citizens. An attorney for the group, which is made up of people who depend on WeChat for personal and business purposes, says it is hoping that the Trump administration will have to clarify which WeChat transactions would be subject to the ban.
WeChat is extremely popular with Chinese mobile device users, essentially operating as its own platform on top of iOS and Android for many users, but the app is also widely used around the world and has over 1.2 billion monthly active users.
It’s still unclear whether the ban applies to the WeChat app only in the United States or if it will result in the removal of the WeChat app from iPhones across the globe. At any rate, any ban would be bad news for Apple. In a worst-case scenario, Apple’s annual global iPhone shipments could decline by 25–30% if it is forced to remove WeChat from its App Stores around the world, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
In a Weibo survey, 95 percent of the 1.2 million people who responded said they would switch to an Android smartphone over an iPhone rather than give up WeChat.
Over the weekend, TikTok also confirmed it plans to sue the Trump administration over the executive order, perhaps as early as Monday. ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is believed to be in talks with Microsoft about the software giant acquiring the app’s U.S. operations. Other companies including Twitter are also reportedly in talks with TikTok.
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