The Department of Justice said the Chinese-owned courier service posed a national security threat to the United States.
The Justice Department is calling for an immediate ban on WeChat downloads from Apple and Google app stores, saying the Chinese-owned messaging service is a security threat to the United States.
Last week, the US Department of Commerce moved to ban WeChat from US app stores, but on Saturday Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in California agreed to delay US restrictions, saying they would affect users’ rights to the first amendment.
In a filing on Friday, the Justice Department asked Beeler to allow an immediate ban while the case progresses in court.
WeChat is a messaging-focused app popular with many Chinese-speaking Americans that serves as a lifeline for friends, family, customers, and business contacts in China. It is owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent.
The Justice Department says WeChat allows the Chinese government to collect and use personal data about Americans to advance its own interests. The filing says WeChat has around 19 million active daily users in the US across a range of formats including text, images, video and audio.
The Justice Department argues that the United States will suffer irreparable harm, both substantial and procedural, if the court does not stay its decision.
The Trump administration has targeted WeChat and another Chinese app, TikTok, over national security and data privacy concerns in the latest flashpoint amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.