Zoom Receives Backlash After Shutting Down a China Rights Group Account
Zoom Video Communications is under fire after shutting down a US human-rights organization's account not long after the group held a conference on the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, according to the Wall Street Journal.
This occurrence has raised questions about the company's relationship with the communist party in China. On Sunday, the San Francisco based group called Humanitarian China was unable to sign into its account without any explanation. Zoom reactivated the account Wednesday after a news organization publicized the event. “This is a very big setback,” said Mr. Zhou, a Tiananmen veteran from Newark NJ. Most video conferencing platforms are blocked in mainland China by the communist party.
Zoom defended its actions by stating that it had to respect local laws. “When a meeting is held across different countries, the participants within those countries are required to comply with their respective local laws,” said a company spokesman. This shutdown has led to worries about the Chinese government's surveillance and the group is demanding to know how Zoom determined a violation of local laws.
Zoom did not comment on user data privacy, but stated it would revise its operations to protect users from “those who wish to stifle their communications.” This isn't the first time the company's relationship with China has come into question. In April, researchers at Citizen Lab, said Zoom stored encryption keys on servers in China. The company responded saying data was accidentally sent through the servers in China due to a massive influx in February.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China was shut down last month after the group hosted a series of talks that scrutinized China. “It is outrageous that Zoom is exercising political censorship on behalf of China,” said the chairman of the group Lee Cheuk-yan.
Zoom CEO Eric Yuan has previously stated that the Chinese government has not requested data from foreign users. The company is formally registered in mainland China.
“We cannot make a company so integral to our teaching if it engages in PRC censorship,” wrote James Millward, a professor of Chinese history at Georgetown University.