HONG KONG | The us company Zoom acknowledges having acceded to requests from the chinese government to close the accounts of activists in the United States and Hong Kong who wanted to use its video conferencing application in order to commemorate the crackdown on deadly chinese in Tiananmen square.
In a press release Thursday night, Zoom promises to provide the technological means to restrict to the territory of their countries, requests governments to stop activities they consider illegal.
The application, which was popularized during the confinement related to the swine coronavirus, is found at the heart of concerns about freedom of expression.
Wednesday and Thursday, activists of human rights in the United States and Hong Kong have announced that three of their accounts had been suspended without explanation before the virtual meetings planned to honor the memory of the victims of Tiananmen, an episode taboo in China. In the night of 3 to 4 June 1989, a military intervention on Tiananmen square in Beijing had ended in the blood in seven weeks of protests pro-democracy in China.
Zoom was found to have temporarily closed these accounts and was justified by the fact that “as a global society, we must respect the laws in force in the jurisdictions in which we operate”, without other precision.
In its press release more detailed Thursday night, Zoom says he was alerted by the chinese government on holding four public meetings online to commemorate Tiananmen.
“The chinese government has informed us that this activity was illegal in China and has asked it to Zoom to delete the meetings and accounts of the welcoming,” says the california-based company emphasising having acted against meetings which have been attended by users from mainland China.
Zoom adds that its current technology does not allow him to “remove participant-specific, meeting or block participants from a given country”.
“In the present case, we have taken the decision to put an end to three of the four meetings and to suspend or delete the accounts hosts associated to these three meetings,” according to its press release.
Zoom recognizes that its response “was a failure” and “should not have touch users outside of mainland China”.
The company has since reactivated the three accounts and will provide tools to block or remove participants from some countries.
“Zoom will not allow the demands of the chinese government to have an impact on anyone outside of mainland China”, she says. Zoom has not specified the identity of the holders of accounts suspended or closed.
Two survivors of the Tiananmen installed in the United States, Wang Dan, and Zhou Fengsuo, as well as the organizer in Hong Kong the vigil annual commemoration of Tiananmen, Lee Cheuk-yan, have announced that their accounts had been closed temporarily.
Like other societies, western technology, Zoom is confronted with requests from authoritarian governments in markets of importance. In China, Apple has acknowledged in 2017 have been removed from its App Store chinese applications VPN software to circumvent the internet blocking local. The group has also built up in China a data center to store the personal information of its users in order to comply with a law on cyber security, requiring the storage on the chinese soil.