We already know that politics and economics don’t really mix well, but sadly, for many companies looking to reach some markets, they have to often cater to certain political rules and create an often unhealthy compromise between the two. We’ve seen this play out on how Google can no longer work with Huawei, something which ruins their latest smartphone and now Zoom appears to be catering to the demands of the Chinese government as they work on a new feature that will allow it to block users based on their geographical location. This news comes after Zoom admitted that it recently suspended three user accounts based in Hong Kong and the US at the request of the Chinese government.
It’s a difficult line to walk for the company who announced in a recent blog post how it plans to work on the new feature after reinstating the accounts that it was asked to block:
Zoom is developing technology over the next several days that will enable us to remove or block at the participant level based on geography. This will enable us to comply with requests from local authorities when they determine activity on our platform is illegal within their borders.
This does set a precarious precedent. On the one hand, you want your software to work in China, which as the most populous country in the world is an important market for them, but its ease in complying to the request of the Chinese government has not gone over well with certain American companies and so it could affect their userbase in their own country. Even though some of its previous security issues should have scared them off already.
Zoom is not the only company to agree to certain requests by the Chinese government, as Google, Microsoft and Amazon have done the same before in different ways. People will probably not care too much for this as it doesn’t affect them, but it’s yet another example of an alliance between companies and governments that restrict some of the intended freedom that the internet is supposed to provide.
Last Updated: June 15, 2020