U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are demanding information from Zoom’s CEO after the company admitted it deactivated the accounts of U.S-based, pro-democracy Chinese activists — at the request of the Chinese government — after they held a Zoom meeting on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
“We write with deep concern regarding reports that Zoom, a U.S.-based company, deactivated the accounts of two U.S.-based, pro-democracy Chinese activists after they held a Zoom meeting on the June 4th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre,” Wyden and Merkley wrote in a bipartisan letter with 11 other senators.
“Your company has admitted that it did so at the request of the Chinese government to comply with the laws of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), because some of the participants resided inside the PRC,” the senators wrote. “Zoom’s millions of daily users across the world who support and demand basic freedoms deserve answers.”
In addition to Wyden and Merkley, others signing the letter are U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Ed Markey (D-MA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Tom Cotton (R-AR),
The full text of the letter is here and below.
Dear Mr. Yuan:
We write with deep concern regarding reports that Zoom, a U.S.-based company, deactivated the accounts of two U.S.-based, pro-democracy Chinese activists after they held a Zoom meeting on the June 4th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Your company has admitted that it did so at the request of the Chinese government to comply with the laws of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), because some of the participants resided inside the PRC. Zoom also shut down accounts of Hong Kong activist Lee Cheuk-yan, potentially for a similar reason.
The PRC Government and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will go to great lengths to censor and disrupt activities they believe undermine their leadership and control of China. Such topics include the Tiananmen Square massacre, Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, and more. Not content to silence those within their borders, the CCP frequently reaches abroad to target those who would speak up about the party’s abuses. In the past two years, American companies such as the NBA, Apple, and United Airlines have found themselves under immense pressure to submit to CCP demands for extraterritorial censorship, in exchange for the continued ability to do business within the PRC.
Zoom’s millions of daily users across the world who support and demand basic freedoms deserve answers. As such, we request responses to the following questions:
- What PRC laws did Zoom determine it was in compliance with when deciding to terminate the accounts of U.S.-based human rights activists Zhou Fengsuo and Wang Dan? Please identify the specific sections of the specific laws.
- Why did Zoom terminate the accounts of Hong Kong-based labor activist Lee Cheuk-yan? Please describe the internal process that resulted in this decision.
- Specifically, which PRC or CCP organizations or officials made the requests to terminate the above accounts? What actions did Zoom take to push back?
- How many accounts has Zoom closed outside of the PRC in order to comply with PRC law, or in deference to the perceived political sensibilities of the PRC government or the CCP?
- Does Zoom routinely share data with the PRC government, and, if so, what kind of data does it share?
- What other requests have those or any other PRC, CCP, or affiliated organizations or officials made of Zoom related to access to account information, communications, or otherwise infringing upon the privacy of Zoom users inside of the United States? If such requests have been made, which state or party organizations specifically made those requests?
- Does Zoom have CCP branches or committees within the company’s PRC offices? If so, how many, and who are the branch or committee secretaries?
- Do any of the PRC-domiciled companies to which Zoom contracts its engineering work have internal CCP branches or committees? If so, how many, and who are the branch or committee secretaries?
We urge you to be true to your company’s stated values, which include embracing “different ideas and visionaries.” Zoom must be transparent and not allow foreign governments, such as the PRC government, to dictate the terms of usage.
We look forward to your timely responses.