Zoom, the video conferencing app that has ballooned in popularity during the Chinese virus lockdown, has admitted that it deactivated the accounts of pro-democracy Chinese activists living in America at the request of the Chinese government.
Bloomberg reports that the popular video-conferencing app Zoom has admitted that it deactivated the accounts of pro-democracy Chinese activists based in the U.S. at the request of communist China. Breitbart News recently reported that Zoom closed the account of a group of prominent U.S.-based Chinese activists shortly after the group held a Zoom event commemorating the 31st anniversary of the June 4th Tiananmen Square Massacre.
The event was organized by Zhou Fengsuo, the founder of the U.S. nonprofit group Humanitarian China. Fengsuo is a former student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen protests and organized the May 31 event which was held via a paid Zoom account associated with the nonprofit.
Around 250 people reportedly attended the event with speakers including mothers of students killed during the Tiananmen Square massacre, organizers of Hong Kong’s Tiananmen candlelight vigil, and many others. On June 7, the Zoom account displayed a message stating that it had been shut down.
Zoom released a statement at the time explaining why the group was banned, which said:
Just like any global company, we must comply with applicable laws in the jurisdictions where we operate. When a meeting is held across different countries, the participants within those countries are required to comply with their respective local laws. We aim to limit the actions we take to those necessary to comply with local law and continuously review and improve our process on these matters. We have reactivated the US-based account.
Now, Zoom has admitted that China “demanded” that the company terminate the meetings and host accounts because of the activity which was deemed illegal in the communist country. Zoom stated that at least three of the four Zoom meetings featured participants from mainland China. As a result, the company chose to terminate the associated accounts.
“Going forward Zoom will not allow requests from the Chinese government to impact anyone outside of mainland China,” the company said. The closed U.S. accounts have since been reinstated according to Zoom and the company has said that it is developing technology that could prevent participants from certain countries from joining calls that were deemed illegal in those areas.
Wang Sixin, a professor at the Communication University of China, stated that tech companies operating in China will “need to respect China’s laws, ethics, political correctness and local people’s feeling.” Wang added: “China, after all, has a huge market, and we now have measures to counter such actions that are harmful to China. This is not to say we’re using the market size to bully them. But the companies need to consider the consequences of their actions.”
Wang went on to say: “Google, Facebook and Twitter all have hurt Chinese people deeply in the past, and they are still doing that during the pandemic, limiting accounts of Chinese diplomats, and China has kept a record of them. They can do what they like, but there would be consequences when they or their related businesses want to expand in China.”
In a tweet on Friday, Kyle Bass, the chief investment officer at Hayman Capital Management, discussed possible action from Congress towards Zoom stating, “They have no defense.”
— 🇺🇸Kyle Bass🇺🇸 (@Jkylebass) June 12, 2020
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) wrote a letter to Zoom CEO Eric Yuan in which he stated: “It is time for you to pick a side: American principles and free speech, or short-term global profits and censorship.”
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org