Hill to Zoom: Pick a Side

Legislators on both sides of the Capitol were hammering Zoom Thursday (June 11) on reports it had closed the accounts of U.S.-based Chinese activists after they commemorated the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre pro democracy movement. That shuttering reportedly came at the behest of the Chinese government.

Zoom said it was due to "local laws."

“Zoom’s recent actions and acquiescence to China raise serious concerns about your data practices, including how you protect information you collect on Americans and, importantly, who you grant access to such information,” wrote Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), in a letter to Zoom CEO Eric Yuan.

They want answers to a lot of questions, including how it collects information on Americans, what third parties it shares that info with and whether any Chinese state-owned entities have access to that information.

Separately, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), one of Big Tech's biggest critics, wrote Yuan asking him to "pick a side." Zoom's choices, said the senator, were "American principles and free-speech, or short-term global profits and censorship."

He said trading values for profits, as he is asserting Zoom is doing, "never ends well."

“These oppressive ‘local laws’ are what Party officials use to oppress more than a billion people, including more than one million Uighurs who have been forced into slavery," said Hawley. "These ‘local laws’ are what China is using to crack down on protesters in Hong Kong who just want the basic liberties they were promised by international treaty,” Senator Hawley writes.

Zoom's videoconference tech has been much in the news as remote meetings, professional and personal, become the new normal with COVID-19.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.