Enlarge /. There is and is no ban on WeChat.
A federal judge in California has temporarily suspended efforts by the White House to ban WeChat in the United States to keep that ban from going into effect at midnight tonight.
"The plaintiffs have raised serious questions in connection with their First Amendment claim," wrote US judge Laurel Beeler in her judgment this morning (PDF).
The verdict came in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of WeChat users in the United States. The group, organized as the US WeChat Users Alliance, argued in its complaint that the ban violated their rights to the First and Fifth Amendment, the Restoration of Religious Freedom Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. The group also argues that the law cited in the executive order banning WeChat actually does not give President Donald Trump the authority claimed in the order.
The alliance noted "there are no viable replacement platforms or apps for the Chinese-speaking and Chinese-American communities," Beeler added. Their evidence shows that "WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English have no options other than WeChat."
While the government has an overriding national security interest, Beeler's decision concludes, the government "has provided little evidence that the effective ban on WeChat for all US users addresses these concerns."
Trump declared WeChat and another app in China, TikTok, a national security threat in August, and the bans on both should go into effect at midnight tonight.
However, none of these bans will come into effect this weekend. WeChat will be bailed out thanks to the injunction to enforce the order, and the Commerce Department announced last night that it would delay enforcement of TikTok for at least a week after Trump personally approved a deal between TikTok and Oracle.