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Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A federal judge early on Sunday temporarily blocked a Trump administration order banning downloads of the Chinese-owned global messaging app WeChat.

Why it matters: The temporary injunction means WeChat will remain on Apple's and Google's app stores, despite a Commerce Department order to remove the app by Sunday evening.

  • The move also blocks Commerce from prohibiting other transitions with WeChat in the U.S. that may have affected the site's usability for millions who use the app in the country.

What she's saying: WeChat users who filed a lawsuit “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim, the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs’ favor," U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco wrote.

  • “[W]hile 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," Beeler said.
  • "[T]he regulation — which eliminates a channel of communication without any apparent substitutes — burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s significant interest. This affects the assessment of the public interest."

Context: The Commerce Department on Friday issued the order on national security grounds.

  • The Justice Department argued that blocking the order would "frustrate and displace the president’s determination of how best to address threats to national security," per Reuters.
  • The Commerce Department delayed a similar ban on Chinese-owned TikTok after President Trump said on Saturday he approved "in concept" a deal whereby TikTok will be allowed to continue operating in the U.S., with Oracle as its "trusted technology partner."
  • The Trump administration did not immediately comment on Sunday's injunction.

Go deeper

Dec 22, 2020 - World

Scoop: DHS to issue China data security warning to U.S. businesses

Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security is set to issue an advisory to U.S. businesses, warning them of data security risks associated with using communications equipment and services from China-linked companies.

The big picture: The advisory comes as the Trump administration makes a final push on China, highlighting the administration's emphasis on the risks posed by the close relationship between some Chinese companies and the Chinese government.

57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

First look: The LCV's $4M ad buy

A screenshot from a new League of Conservation Voters ad supporting Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

The League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power are aiming another $4 million worth of ads at centrist House Democrats, urging them to support the climate provisions in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Progressive groups are trying to counter the onslaught of conservative money pouring into swing districts. Both sides are trying to define Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and pressure lawmakers to support — or oppose — the legislation scheduled for a vote in the House this week.

57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Shutdown Plan B

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate will hold a futile vote Monday night — just 72 hours before a potential shutdown — on a House-passed bill to fund the government through Dec. 3 and raise the debt limit.

Why it matters: The bill is going to fail. Period. But then comes Plan B: A "clean" continuing resolution — stripped of language about raising the debt limit — that Democrats spent the past week preparing, Axios is told.