Judge halts WeChat download ban in US-China tech battle

President Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in July

After Sunday, services on WeChat will be "degraded", said a senior US Commerce Department official, who added that existing users may retain some capability.

The Trump administration announced the ban on downloads of video-sharing app TikTok as well as messaging platform WeChat, both owned by Chinese companies, on Friday. These included the violation of the right to free speech for the app's users, as well as a lack of due process and equal protection under law.

The deal seems likely to avert a ban on downloads of the TikTok app that the Commerce Department was set to enforce starting Sunday.

However Judge Beeler, sitting in San Francisco, noted that "while the general evidence about the threat to national security related to China (regarding technology and mobile technology) is considerable, the specific evidence about WeChat is modest". The Trump administration announced details of the proposed ban Friday.

The Justice Department asked for the order not to be blocked after a group of WeChat users filed a lawsuit challenging it.

WeChat is widely used among Chinese expats to keep in touch with people back home. Apple's iPhone sales in China depend heavily on access to WeChat, for example.

While TikTok is primarily used for creating and sharing short, goofy videos among mostly teens and 20-somethings, WeChat is like several different apps combined into one.

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The injunction similarly thwarted an order that would have forbidden other United States transactions with WeChat.

"WeChat users outside of China may think that WeChat's political censorship and surveillance system does not affect them". "We're pleased that today we've confirmed a proposal that resolves the Administration's security concerns and settles questions around TikTok's future in the U.S".

Reacting to that report, Tencent said that "all content shared among worldwide users of WeChat is private", according to a statement provided by Meredith Julian at the public relations firm Brunswick Group. "We are a hundred percent confident in our ability to deliver a highly secure environment to TikTok and ensure data privacy to TikTok's American users, and users throughout the world". Until yesterday, it was expected that TikTok would be able to get around recent executive orders banning the app if it could arrange a successful acquisition.

Trump signed an order in August requiring ByteDance to completely divest from its U.S. TikTok operations by November 12.

The new TikTok Global will "pay more than $5 billion in new tax dollars to the U.S. Treasury", according to a joint statement by Oracle and Walmart.

And Trump said Saturday he wants $5 billion from companies creating a new USA -based TikTok venture directed toward teaching American children "the real history of our country".

Under the terms of the agreement between the two companies, Bytedance retains a majority of TikTok's assets and control over the algorithm, with Oracle and other USA investors taking minority stakes.

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