Zoom apologizes for punishing users at request of Chinese government

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The video conferencing company Zoom admitted Thursday that it took action against pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and the U.S. to appease the Chinese government and pledged that such demands will not impact its users outside of China in the future.

“We strive to limit actions taken to only those necessary to comply with local laws,” the company said in a blog post Thursday. “Our response should not have impacted users outside of mainland China.”

Zoom said it was notified by the Chinese government of four events commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre circulating on social media that violated local laws. The company’s U.S. employees then reviewed and took action against three online gatherings that had or were expected to have participants from China.

The company’s decisions effectively allowed the Chinese government to punish event organizers beyond its borders. One account in Hong Kong and two accounts in the U.S. were suspended but ultimately reinstated, Zoom said.

“This will enable us to comply with requests from local authorities when they determine activity on our platform is illegal within their borders; however, we will also be able to protect these conversations for participants outside of those borders where the activity is allowed,” the company said.

Thursday’s acknowledgement also drew the attention of U.S. lawmakers, over Zoom’s cooperation with Chinese authorities. On Friday, a bipartisan group of senators, including Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., sent a letter to the company’s CEO Eric Yuan.

Source: NPR/Politico

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