Wilbur Ross, U.S. commerce secretary, testifies before the House Committee on Appropriations in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.
Sarah Silbiger | Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Trump administration will challenge an order that blocked the Commerce Department’s ban on downloads of the Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler on Sunday halted a move that would have forced Apple and Google to remove Tencent‘s WeChat for downloads by Sunday evening. Users who had already downloaded the app would have found it largely unusable.
“Prohibiting the identified transactions is necessary to protect the national security of the United States, and the department expects to soon seek relief from this order,” the Commerce Department said, according to Reuters.
“The Government’s view remains that Executive Order 13943 is fully consistent with law and promotes legitimate national security interests,” a Department of Justice spokesperson told CNBC, referring to the Commerce Department’s ban. “While the Government will comply with the injunction, we are considering appropriate next steps and intend to vigorously defend the Executive Order and the Secretary’s implementation efforts from legal challenges.”
The department previously said it anticipated a long legal battle over the ban.
The Trump administration on Friday sought to ban downloads of WeChat and ByteDance-owned TikTok from operating in the United States, starting Sunday, over alleged national security concerns. But a deal on Saturday between TikTok owner ByteDance and Oracle/Walmart allows the TikTok app operate as normal for now.
In the deal, Oracle will be TikTok’s secure cloud provider and will be a minority investor with a 12.5% stake. Walmart tentatively agreed to purchase a 7.5% stake in the short-form video social media app. TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance will own the remaining 80% of TikTok Global.
There was new confusion over the terms of the deal on Monday morning, however, when President Donald Trump suggested ByteDance won’t have any control over TikTok Global. “They will have nothing to do with it, and if they do we just won’t make a deal,” Trump said Monday on “Fox & Friends.”
The White House has repeatedly warned against Beijing’s alleged intellectual property threat, which China has denied.