Video conferencing software company Zoom acknowledged that, at the request of the Chinese government, the company suspended user accounts in the United States and Hong Kong, and intends to add functionality to block or evacuate meeting participants from mainland China.
Zoom suspended the speeches of three activists last week. They are Li Zhuoren, Wang Dan, and Zhou Fengsuo. They used the service to discuss the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre online. Two of these accounts are located in Hong Kong and one is in the United States.
The company said it suspended these accounts at the request of the Chinese government, although it is unclear which laws have been violated by landlords living in mainland China.
Zoom stated in the blog that after “the Chinese government informed us that the event is illegal in China and asked Zoom to terminate the meeting and the hosting account”, Zoom suspended the use of users. We are committed to being a platform for the open exchange of ideas and dialogue. “
Zoom has now restored the accounts of these three users, but in fact, deprived them of the opportunity to talk to other democratic organizers at a critical time. Zoom said it has taken this measure because it cannot block meeting participants by country/region, so when seeing some mainland Chinese users attend the meeting, Zoom must terminate the meeting.
Zoom said, “Technologies will be developed in the next few days, which will allow us to remove or block at the participant level based on geographic location. When local authorities determine that activities on the platform are illegal within their borders, this will enable us to Observe the requirements of local authorities.
The company said: “Continuing Zoom does not allow the Chinese government’s request to affect anyone outside of mainland China.” But this is unlikely to comfort the mainland or Hong Kong activists who are looking for safe communication between each other or abroad.
An affected activist, Li Zhuoren, who is based in Hong Kong, expressed frustration with the company’s actions to the Guardian. He said: “They have restored my account, but Zoom continues to kneel in front of the Communist Party.”
“The purpose of opening Zoom is to reach mainland China and break the censorship system of the Communist Party of China. With this policy, I cannot achieve ‘S original intention.”
On Friday, a dozen bipartisan legislators led by Senators Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden sent a letter to Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, requesting further details about the company’s How many accounts have been closed.