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China: Zoom must not become a tool in state-sponsored censorship

    June 12, 2020

    Responding to Zoom’s compliance with a Chinese government request to end meetings related to the Tiananmen crackdown and suspend the accounts of a group of US-based activists hosting meetings, Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights Analyst William Nee said:

    “The Chinese government goes to great lengths to ensure that no one in China commemorates or even mentions those killed on 3-4 June 1989. By complying with Beijing’s request to end meetings on the Tiananmen crackdown, Zoom risks contributing to this assault of freedom of expression.

    “Zoom has said it will take steps to ensure users ‘outside mainland China’ are not targeted by such interventions in the future, but in so doing it seemingly turns a blind eye to the repression of users on the mainland.

    “Tech firms such as Zoom must put principles before profit and defend internet freedom, rather than bowing to repressive governments’ demands to stifle it.

    “Zoom must respect human rights throughout all its business operations and not become a tool in China's powerful censorship system."

    Background

    In a statement released on Friday, Zoom revealed that it had suspended the accounts of human rights activists at the request of the Chinese government and suggested it will block any further meetings that Beijing says are “illegal”. It also admitted that it ended three out of four meetings on the Tiananmen crackdown.

    The account of Zhou Fengsuo, a Chinese activist based in the US, was shut down days after he hosted a memorial for the Tiananmen crackdown.

    Activist Wang Dan, who held a Zoom event on 3 June to commemorate the anniversary of the 4 June Tiananmen crackdown, had his account shut down twice.

    And activist Lee Cheuk-Yan, who organizes a yearly Tiananmen vigil, also saw his account terminated.

    The accounts have since been reinstated after Zoom acknowledged it had made a mistake and that its response “should not have impacted users outside of mainland China”.  

    Corporate responsibility to respect human rights exists independently of, and over and above, compliance with national laws and regulations.

    For further details or to arrange an interview contact:

    Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), lscholey@amnesty.ca  

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