On Dec. 18, prosecutors from the U.S. Justice Department charged a China-based Zoom executive with conspiring to terminate Zoom meetings this year that commemorated the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre at the Chinese government’s behest. The 47-page complaint contains detailed exchanges between the executive and employees at Zoom’s California headquarters this year.
It was a fascinating read, not least because few global tech companies that do business in China have ever made public the details of their communications with Chinese authorities on censorship issues, despite repeated calls to do so from human rights organizations and United Nations experts.
What the complaint reveals is Beijing’s aggressive pursuit of global censorship of topics deemed sensitive or critical of Beijing, and Zoom’s failure to adequately protect its users’ rights to free expression and privacy.
In May, the China-based Zoom executive, Xinjiang Jin, who served as a government affairs liaison, contacted employees at Zoom’s headquarters about the massacre’s anniversary on June 4. The anniversary is one of the most censored events in China, and Jin told his colleagues in the U.S. that the “internet police” in China had increased pressure on Zoom to censor politically sensitive content of Chinese users no matter where they were.