Scholars raise concerns about using Zoom to teach about China

Jun 14, 2020 by

Scholars raise concerns about teaching on Zoom after it acceded to Chinese government demands to shut down activists’ accounts. Zoom says it will develop technology to block users by geography.

ISTOCK.COM/Andrei Stanescu

China studies scholars say they are worried about teaching on the online meeting platform Zoom after multiple news outlets reported that the company temporarily shut down the account of a U.S.-based dissident after he organized a commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre on Zoom.

The company confirmed that it ended three Zoom meetings commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre and terminated the host accounts associated with those meetings — one in Hong Kong and two in the U.S. — after the Chinese government informed Zoom the gatherings were illegal in China. Zoom said the accounts have been reinstated.

Unlike many other major tech platforms based in the U.S., Zoom, which is headquartered in California, has not been blocked by the Chinese government. Zoom said in a blog post that it is “developing technology over the next several days that will enable us to remove or block at the participant level based on geography” which will allow the company to “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.”

A Zoom spokesperson said in a statement, “Our platform is increasingly supporting complex, cross-border conversations, for which the compliance with the laws of multiple countries is very difficult. We regret that a few recent meetings with participants both inside and outside of China were negatively impacted and important conversations were disrupted.”

Zoom’s interference with the Tiananmen gatherings and its suspension of user accounts raised alarm among many in higher education, which increasingly depends on Zoom to operate courses remotely — including for students located within China’s borders.

Source: Scholars raise concerns about using Zoom to teach about China

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.