WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge early Sunday blocked the Trump administration from requiring Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google to remove Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat for downloads by late Sunday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco said in an order that WeChat users who filed a lawsuit “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim, the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs’ favor.”
Her 22-page order added the prohibitions “burden substantially more speech than is necessary to serve the government’s significant interest in national security, especially given the lack of substitute channels for communication.”
On Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department had issued a order citing national security grounds to block the app from U.S. app stores owned by Tencent Holding’s and the Justice Department had urged Beeler not to block the order. Tencent and the Justice Department did not immediately comment.
Beeler’s preliminary injunction also blocked the Commerce order that would have barred other transactions with WeChat in the United States that could have dramatically degraded the site’s usability for current U.S. users or potentially made it unusable. The U.S. Commerce Department did not immediately comment.