Social Media

Zoom shuts down activists accounts for holding ‘illegal’ virtual meetings

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on June 12, 2020 Published on June 12, 2020

Zoom Video Communications on Thursday provided clarification on why it had shut down the accounts of three pro-democratic activists for holding a virtual memorial meeting for the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989.

The video platform said that it had suspended the accounts of Lee Cheuk-yan, Wang Dan, and Zhou Fengsuo at the request of the Chinese government stating that such meetings were illegal in the country. These accounts have now been reinstated.

“In May and early June, we were notified by the Chinese government about four large, public June 4th commemoration meetings on Zoom that were being publicized on social media, including meeting details. The Chinese government informed us that this activity is illegal in China and demanded that Zoom terminate the meetings and host accounts,” Zoom said.

The Zoom team reviewed these four meetings and found that two of these meetings had a “significant” number of participants from China based on IP addresses. The Chinese government had provided a social media invitation to the Zoom tea for the fourth meeting stating that the account had held a previous meeting that was illegal in China. A US-based Zoom team had reviewed the same.

Since the platform doesn’t have the capability to block a particular meeting participant from the meeting based on factors such as geography, it had decided to suspend the host accounts of these meetings.

The platform further said that it had not provided any access to personal information to the Chinese government.

The platform further said that it “had fallen short” by removing the accounts of users outside of mainland China as out of these accounts, one was based in Hong Kong SAR and two in the U.S. It has reinstated those accounts. Another shortcoming was that the video conferencing platform had shut down host accounts instead of blocking participants. It further said that it will work on building this capability in the platform to block participants based on geography.

“Going forward Zoom will not allow requests from the Chinese government to impact anyone outside of mainland China,” Zoom said.

“We are improving our global policy to respond to these types of requests. We will outline this policy as part of our transparency report, to be published by June 30, 2020,” it added.

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Published on June 12, 2020
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