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Zoom shut down US activists’ account after Tiananmen commemoration, citing Chinese law

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Zoom, the video conferencing technology provider, admitted to shutting down the account of a group of prominent Chinese activists based in the United States after hosting an event on the platform in honor of the anniversary of the massacre of Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Zhou Fengsuo, founder of the US-based humanitarian nonprofit China, hosted the event on May 31 on a paid Zoom account associated with Humanitarian China, according to a organization statement. Axios first reported suspension of the account.

Zhou was a student leading historical protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. About 250 people joined the anniversary event, including other protest organizers and relatives of protesters who were killed. On Sunday, the Zoom account associated with Humanitarian China posted a notice saying it had been closed.

“Zoom is complicit in erasing memories of the Tiananmen massacre in collaboration with an authoritarian government,” Humanitarian China said in its statement.

Asked about the suspension, a Zoom representative provided a statement via email: “Like any global business, we must comply with applicable laws in the jurisdictions in which we operate. When a meeting takes place in different countries, participants from 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 to continuously review and improve our process on these matters. “

Zoom said Wednesday afternoon that it had reactivated the US-based account.

Zhou confirmed the account has been reactivated, but said Humanitarian China had not heard directly from Zoom, who did not respond to his repeated requests for an explanation.

“This is unacceptable. How many accounts are being targeted during this anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre?” Zhou said in an email. “We want answers.”

Zoom’s popularity exploded in the spring as in-person social gatherings, company meetings, conferences and church services were halted amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With the increase in the number of users, there have been negative reactions, as a number of security vulnerabilities in the product were revealed and researchers wondered if its relationship to subsidiaries in China could give the country’s government undue influence.

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