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CDT Files Amicus Brief Supporting Security of WeChat Users and the Global Internet

Today, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the WeChat User Alliance’s litigation against President Trump’s executive order banning WeChat. The ban forbids app stores from making updates available, thus leaving security flaws unrepaired and making WeChat users vulnerable to malicious software exploits. CDT’s brief, which was jointly filed with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Internet Society, explains those technical risks and more.

“The ban on WeChat threatens the very structure of the global internet,” said Avery Gardiner, CDT’s General Counsel. “If enacted, the ban would result in internet fragmentation, making it more difficult for people across the globe to connect, and it would encourage authoritarian censorship around the world. That’s antithetical to the nature of the internet and its extraordinary power.”

The brief explains how the ban on WeChat threatens the global internet’s structure, and increases security vulnerabilities for users. It argues that the executive order’s additional restrictions on content delivery networks and traffic exchanges by internet backbone providers will lead to fragmentation of the internet, thus degrading the experience of all internet users. The brief also argues that the ban threatens user privacy, because internet providers may start inspecting all data packets that travel on their networks to ensure compliance with the ban, a practice CDT has long advocated against. Finally, the very existence of the ban threatens global free speech and may encourage authoritarian regimes to increase their efforts to censor online content.

“Banning apps that enable free speech, just because the President does not like either that speech or the companies that own them, is shortsighted and threatens the entire structure of the global internet,” said Avery Gardiner, CDT’s General Counsel. “We are in the business of defending digital rights for all internet users, and we hope to help the Court see how this ban, falsely cloaked in the language of national security, poses an extraordinary threat to the internet itself, as well as to free speech online in the United States and around the world.”

CDT is a 25-year-old 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to promote democratic values by shaping technology policy and architecture.