The Trump administration is pressing to move forward with an order banning app platforms from allowing people to download the Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat.
In papers filed Wednesday with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Department of Justice argues that WeChat has enabled the Chinese Communist Party to create dossiers of millions of Americans.
The People's Republic of China “has undertaken activities that were once unthinkable,” the government lawyers write. “PRC intelligence services have in recent years repeatedly conducted espionage on, and stolen the sensitive personal data of, hundreds of millions of Americans.”
The government adds that WeChat enables the Chinese Communist Party to “'build dossiers on millions' more.”
The Justice Department makes the argument in hopes of convincing the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse an injunction issued last month by U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco.
She prohibited the government from enforcing a Commerce Department order directing app stores to take down the Chinese-owned WeChat messaging app. The agency's move came after President Trump claimed in an executive order that the messaging service poses a security risk.
Beeler said the Commerce Department's order implicates the First Amendment, writing that WeChat “is irreplaceable for its users in the U.S., particularly in the Chinese-speaking and Chinese-American community.”
WeChat's users are asking the 9th Circuit to allow Beeler's injunction to remain in place. Among other arguments, they say the government has not shown how WeChat poses a specific security threat.
“Their entire national security argument is based on general distrust of the Chinese government and Chinese corporations, but defendants provide no actual evidence that U.S. WeChat users’ data has been provided to China, let alone used against Americans,” lawyers for the messaging app's users write.
In addition to asking the 9th Circuit to reverse Beeler's order, the Justice Department also asked Beeler to lift her injunction pending appeal.
Beeler, who held a hearing on that request Thursday, suggested that she doesn't plan to grant it.