The controversy caused by a blockade in China that ended up affecting other countries has caused the change.
Successful in the state of confinement for months we have had, the ZOOM video conferencing application operates in more than 80 countries and continues to expand, requiring compliance with local laws in each of them. And precisely this led her to have a run-in with China last month that has led to a change in its functions.
Anti-public gathering weapon
According to their website, in May and early last June, the Chinese government “notified us of four large public meetings to commemorate June 4 in Zoom that were being published in the social media,” including the details of the meeting. The Chinese government informed ZOOM that this activity “is illegal in China and demanded that Zoom end the meetings and accounts of the hosts.”
At one of the meetings, although the Chinese authorities “demanded that we take action,” Zoom chose to keep the meeting uninterrupted because there were no participants from mainland China. In 2 of the 4 meetings, a United States-based Zoom team examined the meeting’s metadata (such as IP addresses) as the meeting took place, and confirmed a significant number of participants from Mainland China.
For the fourth situation, “the Chinese government showed us an invitation from the social media for an upcoming meeting in reference to a commemoration event on June 4 and demanded that we take action.” Chinese authorities also warned of a previous meeting under this account that they considered illegal. A United States-based Zoom team confirmed the attendance of participants from mainland China to that previous meeting.
Block users outside of China
The Zoom app does not currently have the ability to withdraw certain participants from a meeting or block participants from a certain country from joining a meeting. Therefore, “we made the decision to end three of the four meetings and we suspended or terminated the accounts of the hosts associated with the three meetings”, even if those accounts and participants were from outside China. Of course this earned them several negative articles on the Media and Expert Network.
Zoom itself acknowledges its failure, noting that “our response should not have impacted users outside of mainland China. We made two mistakes:
- We suspend or terminate the accounts of the hosts, one in the Hong Kong SAR and two in the US. We have reset these three accounts for the hosts.
- We close meetings instead of blocking participants by country. We currently do not have the ability to block participants by country. We could have anticipated this need. Although there would have been significant repercussions, we could also have kept the meetings going. ”
The option to block users by country
For this reason, the company has decided not to allow “the requests of the Chinese government to affect anyone outside of mainland China”, so Zoom is developing a technology that will allow them to eliminate or block at the level of participants based on the “Geographical location” of these.
According to Zoom, and clearly referring to China, “this will allow us to comply with the requests of local authorities when they determine that activity on our platform is illegal within its borders; however, we will also be able to protect these conversations for participants outside the borders where activity is permitted. ”
“We did not provide any user information or content from the meeting to the Chinese government. We do not have a back door that allows someone to enter a meeting without being visible […] We hope that one day the governments that build barriers to disconnect their peoples from the world and recognize each other that they are acting against their own interests, as well as well as the rights of its citizens and of all humanity ”.