Zoom U-turns on decision to ban the account of U.S-based Chinese pro-democracy activists

Zoom has reactivated the account of a US-based group of Pro-Chinese democracy activists after temporarily suspending the account “to comply with local laws.”

According to Axios 2 days ago:

The U.S. video-conferencing company Zoom closed the account of a group of prominent U.S.-based Chinese activists after they held a Zoom event commemorating the 31st anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre, Axios has learned.

In an update, a Zoom spokesperson confirmed to Axios that the account closure had taken place and that bizarrely, the account had now been reactivated. In a statement Zoom 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.”

As Axios explains, the specific call in question was a Zoom event commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4. The report notes:

This suggests Zoom closed the account due to concerns in China, which forbids free discussion of the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement.

The event was organized by Zhou Gensuo, founder of Humanitarian China, a U.S. nonprofit organization, it was attended by 250 people and speakers reportedly included “mothers of students killed during the 1989 crackdown.”

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Whilst the account has been reactivated, that it was banned in the first place has raised serious questions over Zoom’s policies and security. As Bill Bishop, writer of Sinocism China Newsletter noted:

Eyebrows were raised earlier this month over news that Zoom would not be providing end-to-end encryption for free accounts, CEO Eric Yuan stating:

“Free users, for sure, we don’t want to give that (end-to-end encryption). Because we also want to work it together with FBI and local law enforcement, in case some people use Zoom for bad purposes.”

In response to this, Zoom security consultant Alex Stamos went to great lengths to explain Zoom’s encryption plans explicitly stating:

“Zoom does not proactively monitor content in meetings and will not in the future. Zoom doesn’t record meetings silently. Neither of these will change.”

However, this does not seem consistent with this most recent report.

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