WeChat is not banned, at least not yet
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(Update 09-20-2020) It looks like the 9th court temporarily blocked the WeChat ban (NPR). The TikTok ban became irrelevant because there is the new deal with Oracle / Walmart (theverge).
CNN: US will ban WeChat and TikTok downloads on Sunday. Quote: “The only real change as of Sunday night will be [TikTok users] won’t have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps or maintenance,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Friday morning on Fox Business. || Also, quote: “The restrictions targeting WeChat are more extensive. Beginning Sunday, it will be illegal to host or transfer internet traffic associated with WeChat, the Department said in a release. The same will be true for TikTok as of Nov. 12, it said.” I don’t know if this part is doable (again not sure if it’s legal) in the US. Also this part seems contradicts with Wilbur Ross’s comments. Btw, Wilbur Ross made most of his money from coal industry (and coal miners’ pension or healthcare): this part is similar to how his boss got rich…
(Earlier) TechCrunch: Justice Department says WeChat users won’t be penalized under Trump’s executive order : the normal chat / group chat function will continue to work after Sunday September 20. It does seem impact the WeChat pay (financial transaction) as well as the App / Google Play store (workaround later). Also refer to this Ars Technica article.
The workaround for the App store is to change your country / region, for example, change from the US to Canada. You may create a new user if needed. One thing I found out is if I have app store credit on account, I cannot switch. This applies to TikTok users as well.
- There are ways to download apps even if the apps are no longer available in the US App Store or Google Play Store. The trick is to pick another country / region in the store setting. There is a limit though: if you have balance (credit, money) in the App Store, you cannot switch (have to spend it first). In this case you may have to create another app store id solely for the purpose to download apps (for example, in addition to wechat, there are some other apps only available in China app store).
- If the administration decide to block the web traffic (app traffic is a part of web traffic, it’s usually at the http level). One may use VPN service to get around that. This is nothing new.
- There is also desktop app (Mac, Windows) and web app on WeChat web site. You may install the desktop app, or use the web app (essentially it’s like a website). Note WeChat still needs the phone app for sign in for those.
Here is a link to the US WeChat User Alliance. They are suing the US government for the unreasonable action (likely illegal as well).
Last but not least, this is mostly a last ditch effort from the current administration to save the re-election (this part if proven, it’s illegal too). Because, in the US the political campaign and governing are separate.