- Chevron Corporation has told its employees around the world to delete Tencent’s WeChat app from their work phones, describing it as a “non-compliant application” in a staff email seen by Bloomberg News.
- Any staff that don’t delete the Chinese social media and chat app will have their access to Chevron’s internal system revoked, it said.
- The American oil giant is one of the first companies in the US to take the Trump administration’s ban of the social media and chat app on board.
- A federal judge blocked the US government from banning WeChat app downloads from Sunday, September 20. The US Commerce Department said it will challenge the order, and that the app poses a national security risk.
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US oil company Chevron has ordered staff worldwide to delete WeChat off their work phones, despite President Donald Trump’s ban on the app being blocked by a federal court.
Chevron described WeChat, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, as a “non-compliant application.” Staff would be disconnected from the firm’s internal network unless they remove the social-media-and-chat app from their devices, according to a staff email seen by Bloomberg News.
“Due to a recent Executive Order banning the use of WeChat, Chevron is requiring that you remove the application from your mobile device,” the memo said. “If no action is taken, prior to September 27, 2020, your access to the Chevron system will be removed.”
Chevron and Tencent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A government executive order published Friday, September 18, said that WeChat and video-sharing app TikTok would be banned from Sunday, September 20 onwards, preventing US citizens from downloading or updating the app from Apple or Google’s app stores.
However, a federal judge in California blocked the Trump administration from banning the app on Saturday, September 19, saying the ban violated free speech rights. Bloomberg first reported that US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler issued a preliminary injunction, stating in the ruling that WeChat “serves as a virtual public square for the Chinese-speaking and Chinese-American community in the United States.”
Banning it “forecloses meaningful access to communication in their community and thereby operates as a prior restraint on their right to free speech,” Beeler added.
WeChat has more than 1 billion users worldwide, with 19 million in the US. Chevron’s move comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over Chinese apps such as WeChat and TikTok. The Trump administration claims the apps pose a national security risk because they might share user data with the Chinese government.
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