Video conferencing company Zoom announced it is developing technology that can block individual users in China from video calls at the request of Beijing. The move will allow Zoom to better abide by local laws in other countries, according to Zoom, a U.S.-based company with significant ties to China.
“We were notified by the Chinese government about four large, public June 4 commemoration meetings on Zoom. The Chinese government informed us that this activity is illegal in China and demanded that Zoom terminate the meetings and host accounts. This will enable us to comply with requests from local authorities,” Zoom said.
Zoom has seen massive growth since state officials began implementing stay-at-home orders in an effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Americans have used the Silicon Valley-based company as a means of staying connected with colleagues and family members amid the lockdowns.
The report comes after Zoom acknowledged that it removed the account of activist Zhou Fengsuo, a former student leader of the Tiananmen protests in 1989, who organized the May 31 event through a paid Zoom account associated with a nonprofit he founded called “Humanitarian China.”
“Just like any global company, we must comply with applicable laws in the jurisdictions where we operate,” a Zoom spokesperson said in a statement, according to Axios, which initially reported Zhou’s removal.
“When a meeting is held across different countries, the participants within those countries are required to comply with their respective local laws,” the spokesperson added. “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.”
Zoom faces growing scrutiny regarding its ties to China, which prohibits discussion of the protest and the government’s violent response to the demonstrations. The company acknowledged in April routing calls through Chinese servers.
Zoom has not responded to request for comment addressing why the company reinstated Zhou despite initially removing him over concerns related to China law.