The U.S. Commerce Department said Monday it is challenging a federal judge’s injunction against its order that Apple and Google remove WeChat from their U.S. app stores due to data privacy and national security concerns.
The department’s original order, issued Friday, also included another Chinese-owned app, TikTok, and expressed the Trump administration’s concerns about the way the apps collect user data and the potential for that information to be shared with Chinese government agencies.
China has rejected the U.S. allegations of a security threat, and on Saturday condemned what it called “bullying” that violated international trade standards.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler responded Sunday to a request for an injunction from WeChat users by putting the Commerce Department’s order on hold, ruling that the Trump administration’s actions would restrict users’ free speech rights under the First Amendment.
WeChat has about 19 million active daily users in the United States. The service, owned by Chinese tech company Tencent, is popular with Americans who use it to communicate with family and friends in China.
Video-sharing service TikTok earned a short reprieve from its part of the Commerce Department order after announcing an agreement to form a new company with U.S. tech giant Oracle and retailer WalMart together holding up to a 20% share.
Speaking to Fox News on Monday, Trump said his administration would not approve the agreement if ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese owner, has any control.
“If we find that they don’t have total control, then we’re not going to approve the deal,” Trump said of Oracle and WalMart. “We will be watching it very closely.”
Those comments are in contrast to those Trump gave Saturday when he said he approved of the agreement “in concept” and had “given the deal my blessing.”
The Commerce Department has delayed the app store ban for TikTok until September 27, and given the company until November 12 to resolve national security concerns before facing a wider range of restrictions.