San Francisco: WeChat users in the US can breathe a bit easy now as the Donald Trump administration has said in a court filing that the upcoming restrictions on the Chinese-owned messaging app would not target its users.
The response from the government came after a group of WeChat users filed a lawsuit in August, claiming that Trump’s ban is unconstitutional.
With an executive order issued on August 6, Trump banned any “transaction” with WeChat in the US, 45 days after the order was issued, effectively setting the September 20 deadline for the US Commerce Department to draw up measures to implement the order.
The order was apparently issued to “take aggressive action against the owner of WeChat”, Chinese company Tencent Holdings, to protect the “national security” of the US.
A similarly worded executive order was also issued on the same day, targeting TikTok.
In their lawsuit, the WeChat users, who were not affiliated with the app maker, sought a restraining order against what they called a “vaguely worded” executive order.
In the court filing, the US Justice Department on Wednesday said it had notified the WeChat users that their use of the app was not prohibited by the order, CNET reported.
“While the Department of Commerce continues to review a range of transactions, including those that could directly or indirectly impact use of the WeChat app, we can provide assurances that the secretary does not intend to take actions that would target persons or groups whose only connection with WeChat is their use or downloading of the app to convey personal or business information between users, or otherwise define the relevant transactions in such a way that would impose criminal or civil liability on such users,” the administration said in a filing with the Northern California District Court.
“In other words, while use of the app for such communications could be directly or indirectly impaired through measures targeted at other transactions, use and downloading of the app for this limited purpose will not be a defined transaction, and such users will not be targeted or subject to penalties.”