Zoom to implement geo-blocking feature

Zoom to implement geo-blocking feature
Zoom will add a new blocking feature to block users by geographic location due to pressure from the Chinese government in the wake of Tiananmen Square Massacre commemorations held on the platform.

Discussion of the Tiananmen Square Massacre (Also referred to as the ‘June 4th incident’) is illegal in the People’s Republic of China following the murder of an unknown number of demonstrators in 1989 by the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

Multiple Tiananmen Square Massacre remembrance events were publicised online and held on the platform on 4 June, prompting the Chinese government to demand for the termination of the meetings and for the banning of the hosts from the platform. Zoom temporarily banned the users who hosted the events. 

One meeting held on the platform was allowed to continue after a review found that no participants were accessing the meeting from mainland China.  

In a statement, Zoom said: “We suspended or terminated the host accounts, one in Hong Kong SAR and two in the U.S. We have reinstated these three host accounts. Going forward Zoom will not allow requests from the Chinese government to impact anyone outside of mainland China. Zoom is developing technology over the next several days that will enable us to remove or block at the participant level based on geography. 

“This will enable us to comply with requests from local authorities when they determine activity on our platform is illegal within their borders; however, we will also be able to protect these conversations for participants outside of those borders where the activity is allowed.”

Zoom will aim to outline its new policy to block users by geography in its transparency report, which will be published on 30 June 2020.

Zoom added: “We hope that one day, governments who build barriers to disconnect their people from the world and each other will recognise that they are acting against their own interests, as well as the rights of their citizens and all humanity. The reality is Zoom operates in more than 80 countries and continues to expand, which requires compliance with local laws even as Zoom seeks to promote the open exchange of ideas. 

“Recent articles in the media about adverse actions we took toward Lee Cheuk-yan, Wang Dan, and Zhou Fengsuo have some calling into question our commitment to being a platform for an open exchange of ideas and conversations. To be clear, their accounts have been reinstated, and going forward, we will have a new process for handling similar situations. We will do better as we strive to make Zoom the most secure and trusted way to bring people together.” 

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