This kind of rationalization isn’t just a problem with Zoom, Apple does the same thing - blocking podcasts and other apps in the Chinese market (also the Taiwan flag emoji).
This is wrong.
What’s legal and what’s right are not the same thing, Zoom’s PR about the promotion of an “open exchange of ideas” is nonsense and both Zoom and the CCP know it.
Companies that work to suppress the rights of citizens are complicit in that suppression and its legality is irrelevant.
When Zoom is requested to send over names and videos of political dissidents to authoritarian leaders will they comply?
I’m sure those killed will be pleased to know Zoom was operating within the legal framework of their country.
Legality should be the bare minimum standard - and in countries with bad laws (Middle East, China) it shouldn’t even be that.
Like, I think companies should take a stand and both aren't acceptable, but Zoom takes new, additional steps here.
I'm not necessarily saying that US and Chinese laws are equivalent in this sense, but it does seem like something of a double standard.
My point is that this is not acceptable either.
Out of interest, did they fix their "mistake" and reinstate the accounts?
Still waiting to see if China will show NBA games while Daryl Morey remains unfired.
How long is the west going to pretend it doesn’t see where this pattern of bullying ends...
However these aren't examples of individuals being targeted by the US government.
Also just because there are instances of other companies having a negative impact on foreign users, it doesn't make this particular instance any less bad. It's a logical fallacy to imply otherwise.
Fuck Zoom. Fuck the Chinese administration.
There, now go say that in China without fearing for your life or that of your loved ones.
It's a blatant double standard.
These trade agreements are global. The countries that don't have trade agreements are usually those suffering through an embargo.
Plus obeying local laws in regards to local residents, which don’t apply to this allegation.
So, by this logic, Zoom’s actions only make sense if they are based in China.
Can’t they? They’re not required to do business with any particular individual by statute, are they?
Zoom gets lots of free press exposure and gets to point out how they are improving.
However it's still unethical.
I think platforms are OK to publish this as long as it's behind an "NSFW" wall/toggle. But platforms like Facebook choose not to have one (not to mention that the policy of real names isn't really compatible with posting NSFW content)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the data held to US law if it's stored in the US? I'm pretty sure the federal government wouldn't take kindly to me storing petabytes of copyrighted works in the US, regardless of whether my clients are in Chicago, South Africa, or Taiwan.
Zoom's datacenters are theoretically in the US, therefore the regulations US consumers should be held to are US regulations. If they want to play the "we follow local laws" card, they could have restricted the meeting in China only.
For the record, I think what the CCP is doing here is reprehensible, but I'm just trying to add my perspective on this specific issue.
Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft apply DMCA takedown requests to servers hosted physically outside of the US.
For example, US companies have no problem enforcing US copyright law in countries that have no such laws or trade agreements with the US. Otherwise, piracy would be allowed on sites like YouTube as long as the uploader was from one of these countries.
Yet, US laws of free speech no longer seem to matter if the user is in an oppressive country.
The selective enforcement of US law to non-US users is a terrible double standard that needs to change.
And that’s perfectly fine.
The US does imprison more of its citizens on a per capita basis than any other comparable nation.
The US isn’t the moral beacon it was billed to be.
I’ll stop there.
> The US isn’t the moral beacon it was billed to be.
Agreed. I think one difference being that Citizens can, with great personal peril to their own safety and well being, use the Right to assemble and protest to effect change to address systemic corruption.
As an activist with a background in protests in various demos myself, I just wonder what the World would have looked like if this had happened in 2008. There have been countless examples of senseless, illegal police brutality and murder during that time. I'm no fan of the movement but Occupy members were tazed, beaten, sprayed on a regular basis; and most of them were middle class white US Citizens.
The Legal system has not been a viable option for most to find redress to these ills, let alone justice, so they make taking to the streets the only option.
In the PRC doing that means you will be disspeared, and it can cost you your life if you speak out as seen with Li Wenlian, who's wife just had their child:
> On June 4, 1989, however, Chinese troops and security police stormed through Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters. Turmoil ensued, as tens of thousands of the young students tried to escape the rampaging Chinese forces. Other protesters fought back, stoning the attacking troops and overturning and setting fire to military vehicles. Reporters and Western diplomats on the scene estimated that at least 300, and perhaps thousands, of the protesters had been killed and as many as 10,000 were arrested.
> The savagery of the Chinese government’s attack shocked both its allies and Cold War enemies. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared that he was saddened by the events in China. He said he hoped that the government would adopt his own domestic reform program and begin to democratize the Chinese political system.
In two weeks of protests around the country, 19 people are dead: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jemimamcevoy/2020/06/08/14-days.... Three were possibly shot by the police, under circumstances where the allegation is they opened fire first. Two police officers are dead as a result of drive-by shootings.
The contrast with China couldn't be starker. Here we have protests that involved burning down police stations, and a heavily-armed country where gangs have used the protests as pre-texts for shootings. And we've had a handful of officer-involved deaths. In China, by contrast, police killed hundreds of people at a peaceful protest involving a disarmed population.
I hate to make this point, because it sounds like whataboutism, but perhaps the relative population size of China and the US is worth taking into account.
Let's assume that the 300 figure is the most accurate, since these (Western?) reporters and Western diplomats may have had some incentive in the Cold War to over-estimate the number of deaths. In 1989, China's total population was apparently 1,110,000,000 while the 1990 US census counted 248,709,873 people. That's a scale factor of about 4.5 times.
An interesting comparison then is the 82 people killed by the US government in the 1993 Waco siege, which is equivalent to 366 people if scaled up. Obviously the circumstances are different, but in terms of the magnitude of the number of lives lost, we should probably think of the two tragedies as similar.
But those same organizers weren't shipped to Guantanamo for indefinite periods of time for "reeducation."
The USA suffers from some of what it accuses the PRC - it is still not the PRC.
But Ramsey Orta essentially was.
The difference in the USA is solely one of pervasiveness, focus, intensity, not any particular outcome.
They also challenge the sovereignty of Taiwan regularly - it was China who refused to allow two sovereign nations of Chinese origin when the UN switched the Chinese seat to the PRC.
Different countries different tools. The PRC has only really come into its element in the last 3 decades. The USA's foreign policy advocates-through-violence (CIA) don't have the best track record for success but they do have 80 years of experience. Give China time and I expect they'll start doing the same.
> Give China time and I expect they'll start doing the same.
Fair enough, but I hope the US and China incentivize each other to not impose their will on the rest of the world.
Is that a bad thing if we're trying to promulgate our values?
Trump is doing trump but a lot of politicians and others have spoken out and marched - would that happen in China?
To be a moral beacon here America doesn’t have to be perfect.
They just have to be able to say that their hypothetical leader is doing a bad job and that he should be replaced ...or not of they want to.
From that all else follows.
I think that most people can obviously see who has the worse laws, regarding things like censorship.
Would you accept prison or murder as counter-argument to this or other opinions of yours? If not, you prefer free speech.
Who billed it thusly? In my books, the US or other nations don't determine the value of free speech, their respect for free speech determines their value.
It doesn't mean that we are objective on this regard. On the contrary, at least for me, it comes from the subjective feeling that as I dislike the sentiment of being oppressed and I do feel empathy for other people, I wish them not to be oppressed either. This is all subjectivly grounded, and it's fine - to my mind at least.
Let's not pretend that something is objective just because it's deeply rooted into the best part of our hearts.
I have to say that China did a lot of things wrong but it couldn't care any less about religion. Most of the issues aren't religion related. It only makes matters more opaque and hide real issues. Hence I disagree with debates/discussions based on perceived perspectives and use these labels such as 'attack on religion'.
The world in general has concluded that planned economies (communism) is strongly inferior to market economies, but during the early days of communism it was not so obvious. Even in modern times there are people that argue communism was implemented prematurely and would be able to thrive during "end-stage capitalism". You also have plenty of people who while disagreeing with a complete communist revolution would still support nationalisation of key companies or even the more radical "workers being in control of the means of production".
Free speech is even less clear. With america winning the cold war there was a recognition of the american way including the strong support of freedom of speech being the superior system. However lately, especially after 2016 the west seems to have lost confidence in the absolute freedom of speech. Challenging the supremacy of the freedom of speech is the idea that citizens are not capable of judging speech on it's own merit and "misinformation" "speech glorifying violence" etc should be banned. It's not really a clear cut issue, you can for example argue that limiting free speech leads to a more harmonious society (the position taken by China, and also lately the reason given by New Zealand for their decision to ban the Christchurch manifesto)
It’s not as hard as you might think. For instance, when the British East India company came into India, they banned the practice of Sati, revenge killings, etc. It really boils down to what version of history you subscribe to. Do you believe in the principles of the Enlightenment or not? If you do, then you’ll realize that colonization is actually a net positive for the world. Some cultures need to be told how to behave. Not all cultures progress equally or linearly.
What exactly are you getting at?
This is a straightforward lie.
Even if the US, peer pressure is often enough to get political dissenters banned from their social media accounts, jobs, etc.
Many people use the cope out that it's different when it's done by the government or by a private company, but I don't see it as being that different.
With your apparent standard for freedom of speech, isn't pretty much every country excluded? So now everyone is the same as an authoritarian one-party state that outlaws opposition parties and actively censors all internet websites.
Many conservatives or "alt right" types get censored in the west, and some of them have to find hosting in Russia (or on Russian social networks like VK), a country we condemn for censorship. I'm not under the delusion that Russia hosts those people out of respect for freedom of speech, of course, but I find it an interesting observation.
It's hard to blame China for censoring people it deems terrorists, separatists, enemies of the state or whatever, when in the west we're so quick to do it with the enemy-du-jour, sticking a label like 'Nazi' to demonize them (currently, it's the far right/alt right, previously it was communists, who knows which group it will be in ten years).
In addition, the few people and organizations that have been deplatformed from social media and other hosting solutions in the west have had that fate befall them due to companies making a decision that it is not in their financial interest to allow that type of content on their platforms, given its unpopularity among other customers.
This is a completely different situation to China, where companies are directed by the government to explicitly censor certain types of content, and individuals are routinely arrested and imprisoned for creating or sharing content that the government does not agree with.
"Angry mobs", as you put it, are just ordinary people freely expressing their opinions to companies that they choose to do business with. No company is forced to comply with the requests of an "angry mob". No government agency is going to punish a company that doesn't comply. Nobody is getting thrown in prison for something they said online.
Please, it does a disservice to those who are actually experiencing real oppression at the hands of an authoritarian government to make this comparison. Here is just one list of people who have been imprisoned in China largely for expressing themselves online: https://www.chinesepen.org/english/category/writers-in-priso...
Meanwhile, the "many conservatives" who you suggest have been censored in the west are still free to broadcast their content to anyone who wants to listen.
We were talking about people being banned/censored/"de-platformed" from social media companies, in China and in the west. I'm aware that, otherwise, human rights abuse are way worse in China.
As for the idea that abuse only matters when done by a government, it's absurd. We're seeing now private companies talking about censoring the US President, so it's pretty clear who has most power. You can hide behind technicalities like them being private companies or whatever (I note that this argument does not hold when a small mom and pop company refuses to bake a cake, but apparently much larger companies can do whatever they want), but it just means that those companies have the power to censor speech _in practice_ (which is what actually matters in the end), and at the moment they're following angry mobs and not elected officials to define those censorship policies.
A Nazi getting banned from Facebook isnt comparable to a human rights lawyer being stuck under house arrest for years.
America is no better than China when it comes to repressing dissent. American military industrial pharmaceutical organisations are better at usurping insurrection and revolutionary movements, however.
It’s entirely common for countries to have codes that affect those outside their borders - especially ones that were agreed upon in treaty or trade deal. What is unique here is a country demanding that a non local company engage in censorship outside its territory. These two things are nothing alike
The extraterritorial application of US economic sanctions goes way beyond anything any other country is doing to impose its laws abroad.
These secondary sanctions are not based on international treaties and trade negotiations. They're based on levers of power that the US possesses and exploits, much to the chagrin of foreign countries. They are also not common. There's no other country that comes close to imposing its trade policy on the rest of the world in this manner.
You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about - these things don’t just happen overnight cause the US says so.
Sanctions in this case have been discussed and formalized by multiple groups and organizations including OECD, FATF and the UN Security Council.
The developing world has been subjected to this sort of crap for a century, at the hands of the west. I mean, the US will invade your nation and kill tens or hundreds of thousands of your people in order to kill one man.
I have to click on a button on every website I visit to comply with some law in a foreign land.
Look at this sort of tyranny (including all the articles in the sidebar): https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/384636/fiji...
One company deleting an account is nothing, absolutely nothing in comparison.
Why the double standard?
Not 'whataboutism', but just to generalise on this:
The US do this all the time. I believe that in US law the US criminal law has universal jurisdiction, and they also use the fact that they are such a large and important market that companies will have a presence and assets in the US so they that they'll have to comply (which interestingly is exactly what China is often accused of doing.)
Not to mention that they are powerful enough to 'suggest' how to behave to other countries, and we're also seeing that all the time.
So fundamentally I think we're seeing China becoming powerful enough to behave internationally the way the US do, and that is something the US are not used to, being used to being the only superpower in town.
But people should realize that the US law is almost forced to every online company/user.
2. Fuck the Comunist Party of China.
I don't fear for my life when saying the first statement, I've said it in the past on US soil. And I'm saying it right now on a US-based website.
People fear for their lives when making the second statement, esp the Chinese. People wouldn't even be able to read it as it would get quickly censored.
For this reason alone this whole discussion is completely ridiculous.
The US is also far more developed in its methods of political suppression. The voice of the common citizen is virtually absent in D.C. yet the population continues to play along. McCarthyism is ancient history in US politics. Such brutish displays are no longer as effective or required. But the US recently got a taste of how seamlessly the MIC can amplify its violent oppression of citizens, even as they struggle to manage a public health crisis.
You're talking btw with someone born in communism, in Eastern Europe. We blamed the imperialist enemy from the west too and our government saw that enemy among our own people. Everything bad that happened was due to the west trying to undermine our efforts.
All I can say is fuck the CPC and fuck you too.
CCP also undeniably took care of their people during the pandemic, like other "commie" countries like Vietnam, while America is using chemical weapons on theirs amid mass economic strife...
From their blog post
"We strive to limit actions taken to only those necessary to comply with local laws. Our response should not have impacted users outside of mainland China. We made two mistakes:
We suspended or terminated the host accounts, one in Hong Kong SAR and two in the U.S. We have reinstated these three host accounts.
We shut down the meetings instead of blocking the participants by country. We currently do not have the capability to block participants by country. We could have anticipated this need. While there would have been significant repercussions, we also could have kept the meetings running."
I do wonder about this. Given how many core product developers they seem to have in China, if the CCP demanded they... 'enforce their values' globally, or else, I don't think they'd be in much of a position to say no.
Of course if the CCP cared more about enforcing the law than about money, nobody could ever say no to them, but fortunately that's not the case, so there's always room to negotiate.
100% true. American corporations, and businessmen who collaborated with NSDAP in jew gassing "because it was the law," well, just did what they did. It made them genocide collaborators, and criminals regardless if they did it under the law, or not.
As ancient Romans were saying "a crime can be a tiny stone in a bag of flour."
Slavery is a crime, even if it is not unlawful in a last few countries practicing it.
People who go rape children in places, where, well, child rape is not illegal are committing a crime.
Dotcoms who go play ball with criminal states, which make a crime lawful under a law, claiming "we just follow the law!" even if the law itself is criminal, are just as decidedly criminal.
A crime can not be made less criminal under a law for sane person's moral judgement. I would say, a crime that was legislated, makes it an even bigger crime.
A word crime in a sense as a fault, as something objectively morally reprehensible itself underlines that a wrongdoing is discerned through a thorough judgement rejecting anything that is made to hide, "wrap around," or divert focus from the original fault.
It got from something what would've gotten somebody onto pitchforks upon a first sight, to long and arduous arguing about textual meaning of laws, rather than long, and arduous moral judgement of early Greco-Roman trials
Source, unfortunately lacking references in some places: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_laws_of_India
If you want to appeal to a “crime” beyond what people decide is wrong, you are starting to smuggle in an objective moral standard. I think that is hard without appealing to a God or gods.
You know, people used to do so.
Even without that, the loss of objective examination of a fault as a key discerning factor for a justice system was to the detriment of justice.
This leads to a situation when even supreme court judges of countries are being confused by hundreds of contradictory laws of modern legal systems, and can not simply say what is the overall meaning of the law on a given subject without spending hours on research, and writing a lengthy opinion.
What China does is small potatoes compared to the US. The US fined a French bank $9 billion for violating US sanctions.
I personally don't think the US is worse but I think US allies are too weak to put pressure on the US to behave in a civilized and decent way. How would the arm-chair bureaucrats in Brussels even try to mitigate this: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/international...
... we clearly need sanctions against the US but that will upset a lot of Europeans who benefit from an export economy (especially Germany) or the Poles who are ever so fearful against "Russian Agression". The problem really is that no political solutions that we could come up with is going to solve this since US will always be the stronger one for a long time. ... sanctions are a lunatic's dream which will never materialize.
Americans need to step up their own game to sort out their shit politics internally first. No point talking with them about human rights when they're treating their own poor and colored population like that (or talk to them about climate change while they're poisoning the environment in their own country e.g. Flint or many other examples). Problem isn't bad foreign policy but too many truly evil people are in power their, and the general population seems to have abandoned all contact to reality, reason and common sense.
The current riots in the US gives me hope knowing that not everyone is a coward. (though comparing the now to the US of the 60/70ies it is a nation of cowards). While the riots are for a "just" cause (literally reforming the police) they won't solve the US attitude toward other countries ... They still cheer for characters like Hillary Clinton, Obama, Biden, Bush and Trump. And their ignorance against "muslims", or calling poor nations "shithole countries", (again just look how they treat their own poor/homeless).
There is no way that either republicans or democrats will solve this anytime soon. The current system (power structures) needs to burn down first (figuratively) before it can be rebuilt.
It's fair to critique that I shouldn't be turning this into a critique of the US. That said, my main point is that Zoom isn't really doing anything unprecedented in "enforcing one country's geopolitical aspirations across international borders.". Basically every other international company is forced to do the same when it comes to sanctions.
It's a tough call, though. It's not a decision I would want to have to make, that's for sure.
I think the best approach would be to try to support users by making it easier for them to get access in spite of the great firewall.
Maybe. But if you don't do it, a Chinese company will just clone your product, and they will be substantially more beholden to the Chinese government than you.
The only way to play the game is to refuse their rules. So what if they clone your software? Let them.
The decision to cater to China’s demands is a decision for profit. They need to be excluded from the world internet economy instead of embraced. We have to play their game in reverse. They are huge, but the rest of the world is larger still. We have the power to make this happen if we are willing to stick to our values over profit.
That's not true. Every other and their mother has a VPN, only that they don't care nearly as much about what you care in this case.
I'm assuming this is a joke, because this has been the strategy of the West since Nixon first went to China. And the exact opposite has happened. They engage in a kind of neo-mercantilism, and we basically pretend that if they just open their markets up a little bit more they're one more step toward liberal democracy.
Surely, physical connections to the internet are geographical in nature and can be regulated. So are servers. But internet services, hosted within one nation’s borders should not be held responsible to the laws of every nation nation from which a user’s physical connection is located.
No, this is economic bullying, pure and simple. China is a huge market, and they know it’s lucrative to internet companies. They also have the ability to block their citizens from accessing the whole internet. So if a company wants access to the Chinese market, they have to play ball. It’s a genius move, but it’s also distasteful, and to many of us, quite immoral and infringent on human rights.
The decision to comply with the requests of totalitarian governments is entirety a business decision, and I would argue that it’s wrong. Play the game in reverse. If China threatens to cut off American companies from their market, American companies should threaten to cut China out of American services. Maintain our values. American software run buy American companies should uphold American values. If China wants to participate in the American internet, they need to accept American values - that we do not silence people for being critical of our or any government.
Greedy American companies who erode American values at a global level ought to be shunned. China should be allowed access to our services, but fuck the Chinese government if they demand we be complicit in their fascism.
Is there a compiled list out there of American software companies who comply with Chinese censorship demands? Or the reverse, as I suspect most American companies would gladly support fascism in a remote country to earn a buck. This issue needs visibility so that change can occur.
We just also saw the article about Facebook censoring Messenger on behalf of employers.
You’d have to be crazy if you think Gmail, IG DMs, Docs, Messenger, et c are not subject to the same sort of “but the military asked really nicely” occasional censorship. These platforms are inherently dangerous as a result.
Remember that time everyone shut off banking for Wikileaks, years prior to anyone in the organization being charged with any crime?
Centralized censorship services are a direct path to a non-free society. We are already seeing certain topics memory holed off of YouTube, and many otherwise-reasonable people are calling for the same on Facebook despite Zuckerberg’s objections.
Very soon it will be difficult, if not impossible, to publish an entire set of legal things, even in peacetime.
Who are we really mad at here? Zoom or the CCP for essentially forcing their will on helpless entities?
I’d hope I’d refuse to rationalize it.
I’d like to think that, but few people actually get that kind of character test for real (and even fewer pass it when they do).
As far as Zoom and the CCP, I think it’s reasonable to be upset with both. Zoom isn’t helpless, they have agency and could choose to do the right thing.
The citizens they're suppressing though have a lot less agency.
It’s easy to do the right thing when it costs you nothing, the real test is when it’s hard.
It's the CCP playbook. To entice western companies with its lucrative market and at the same time continue its totalitarian regime and oppression. It becomes harder and harder for these companies to "do the right thing" as its influence and market grows. It'll continue to feed the "China way" as simply an alternative to the democracy.
At some point, it becomes so big that it's impossible to reverse course.
The reality is that when other companies see that Zoom can get by, it'd be harder for them say no because looking the other way when the bully is around becomes the norm.
a) Keep their moral code and be happy in the idea that they will probably be cut off from that market (China)
b) Drop their morals, appease to the local laws as unjust as they may be in the hope that their business there continues.
They chose the latter and still want to pretend they are doing both. That's a problem.
They should have been never blocked.
If you are a Chinese citizen you can be arrested for sharing content the Party objects to, even if you were overseas when you did it. You do not even have to be inside China or a Chinese citizen, the authorities may still kidnap and imprison you for exercising your right to free speech in jurisdictions where it is not restricted. So it seems like it doesn't really matter to the Chinese government what the laws are in other countries, when it comes to suppressing speech.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials and propaganda outlets continue to enjoy full freedom of speech in both social media and traditional media in the west.
On your examples: CCP sees some speech as national security issues, which in itself is not controversial i.e. wikileaks. On Luo Daiqing in, countries have subject matter jurisdiction, laws that apply to citizens at all times and regardless of location, i.e. treason. If certain speech is outlawed in China then Chinese nationals can legally be prosecuted by China for them regardless of jurisdiction. Other countries have same legal arrangements on other issue, i.e. sex tourism, organ transplants, drug use. Causeway Books is more complicated, HK(Chinese) and foreign nationals operating in HK to distributed banned books to customers IN mainland which is illegal but also un-prosecutable due to lack of extradition treaty with HK. Basically the reason behind current HK national security law designed to close one-country security loopholes. CCP believes selling illegal books to mainland undermines national security. It was less of a free speech issue than shenanigans comparable to foreign NGO meddling that CCP thinks jeopardizes one-country national security and worth expending political capita on to control. Since national security in context of one-country was legally undefined, CCP was forced to resort to coerce or rendition. It's like how the west will prosecute whistleblowers wherever they are, sometimes through extraordinary means, no matter the optics. Even though in this context the book sellers were (from my understanding) peddling salacious gossip.
It seems if Assange leaked Chinese government info, as a non-Chinese citizen, he wouldnt be in jail right now.
A great feature of Americans looking at China, is they gain an awareness of how the rest of the world views the US in its many areas of overreach.
I think it's an important distinction. Might doesn't make right.
There has never been a peaceful rise of a dictatorship. Hong Kong and South China Sea today, Taiwan is next. The future is scary.
No, the CCP will just get the UN (according to Humans Right Lawyer at the UN) to do it for them:
Cool handle, I wished more people would just stop using propriety closed source software, we can at least try and make inroads that way.
Because realistically no fledgling startup going after marketshare is going to realistically turn down CCP money, and will accept what ever they have to gain access to China and this is why its so dangerous why they have infiltrated this space as this is just one example of so many violations due to it. God only knows what all of those facial recognition companies with CCP blessing have done.
Quick edit: It just occurred to me to search for other articles by the whistleblower's name. I still don't see any evidence so I am skeptical, but anyone else reading should have the chance to judge for themselves. https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1292510/un-human-rights... https://www.foxnews.com/world/un-human-rights-office-china-d...
But you're right details are not easy to self-verify; but given what the CCP has done and continue to do with the WHO is it really all that far-fetched to see they paid off a bunch if UN members to pass them information. Consider how the US needed operatives/assets inside the Iranian nuclear program to deploy what eventually would become Stuxnet-gate.
The problem with that of course, if that the softwares that do comply will suddently win an unfair market advantage against the ones taking a moral stand.
If Zoom is a Chinese company with just a registered US office as has been suggested, then it would appear to be an attempt to circumvent that.
Faire point. But what I'm expecting that we already do it: we probably ask for modifications in their software as well, it's not not something we talk about.
> If Zoom is a Chinese company with just a registered US office as has been suggested, then it would appear to be an attempt to circumvent that.
I would think it's more of a PR move. WeChat has such a reputation it would never make it into the west.
I'm not sure following local laws is considered as protectionism if the same standard is applied to local companies. Blocking market access would be applying unequal standards depending on origin (which I don't allege that they don't do - but for this particular case it doesn't look like they do).
They spun backing out of China as something they did in the interest of free speech, but it was more a response to them getting hacked by the CCP (it's still not clear what was stolen, but something big happened).
More recently they were trying to re-enter the space with a search engine designed to fully comply with the CCP's censorship laws: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly_(search_engine)
It's unclear what caused that to get shut down, but its leak and subsequent public pressure was probably a factor.
It's interesting watching you expressing that opinion in opposition to the Chinese government/Zoom getting a very positive reaction. When I expressed a similar sentiment about the Spanish government/Github a few months ago, the reaction was much more mixed. I wonder if it has more to do with the parties involved or just changing opinions.
EDIT: scrolling further down, the reaction to your comment is far more negative than I had originally thought.
This could lead to the loss of lives and/or imprisonment. eg Chen Qiushi, a civilian reporting on the ground of Wuhan during the pandemic is currently still missing after 126 days with no clear reason other than having too much international attention
Honestly the US could kinda easily look it down. They already use and abuse the position they have to force all kind of trade regulations on companies, even such not seated in the US. They could use the same system to force companies to not undermine free speech, opinion and press.
Through it won't happen as the people currently in power are them-self interested in undermining free speech, free opinion and free press....
Zoom performs China's bidding globally.
Why is that US gets muddled up with a truly authoritarian regime like the CCP. Shit is broken in America, but millions of people marched in last couple of weeks. I don’t think there is a possibility of any kind of anti-gov protests in China.
Apple is an extremely privacy centric company to the point where it’s become it’s primary selling point. It’s advertising it proudly and backing up with real actionable steps - T2 chip, iMessage, Face ID, localized ML, etc.
Most of Apple’s privacy promises and commitments go out the window when it comes to being in China.
Apologies for the seemingly seagull-ish comment/rant, but it is 100% true: "money talks, bullshit walks". Zoom is not going to miss out a 1bn ppl market because of ethics. Apple will not miss out a 1bn market because of ethics. Blackberry handed the keys to the kingdom so fast the heads of the tortured people were spinning, and the tale goes on and on. Autocratic regimes play by our (civilized) rules when they claim "local laws, terrorists, pedophiles", etc.)(hey our govs use the same narrative, right?)
We don't stoop to their (autocratic regimes) level and ignore there legal (and unethical requests).
Capitalism (aka money flowing from country A to country B) is cross-border, freedom-agnostic, and amoral (not IM-moral)(utter lack or morals instead of bad morals).
I use a phone made in China, and thus allow a USA company reduce the number of workers in the USA market and increase dividend to its shareholders. That empowers China to continue its thing since all they care for is my money. Not my attention and my opinions. In the end, I help them get the power they seek. This is why we placed embargo to Iran, Russia, NK.. to teach them a lesson. But China? Too much £€¥$ at stake to isolate them.
May the one without sin cast the first stone. We are all in this together unless we ALL boycott Zoom, Apple, Google, Cancerbook, and the rest until they either help CHANGE China, or we let them isolate and starve until the people will start the fight back.
It's no wonder companies don't bother doing the right thing. People just ignore that massive sacrifice and pull out some other reason to not like Google.
Google's history isn't so clean either.
That said, I still think people within these companies should try to do the right thing (specifically that includes developers like us that make up these companies).
Of course, they've re-examined it. It was the biggest sacrifice for principle in corporate history and they got almost no credit for it.
They must regret it every day, because people who simply dislike Google can take an example of Google doing exactly what they want, and still find a way to call them out for boycott on that exact issue. And even support that issue with quibbles that are tiny in comparison.
And leave Microsoft out of the boycott request in spite of their incredibly craven and spineless behavior on same point (jumping in to try to take Google's spot).
It would appear that, if you dislike Google, it doesn't matter what they do, so why should any company make any sacrifice on principle? They should just spend the money on marketing.
I guess I take the position that doing the ethical thing is done because it’s the right thing to do and not necessarily because you’ll be rewarded for it with virtue from the public.
I agree that the public’s position on technology companies is often uninformed and contradictory, but I don’t really care about that.
If I worked at google I wouldn’t want to enable CCP censorship - not because I expect the public to like me for it it, but because I don’t want to be complicit in the oppression of Chinese citizens.
If they regret it and are willing to re-enter and comply then it wasn’t really based on ethics in the first place.
That said, I’m pretty sure the hack was the main motivation and the speech issue was just a nice story to tell about it.
The idea that capitalism is an amoral system is presented as if it were fact, but I can think of several philosophers of morality who have arguments for the morality or immorality of capitalism.
I look forward to Americans putting their war criminals in prison.
Moral relativism doesn't help. For every company that has to comply with local laws, there is only one greater power that can overcome compliance with that requirement: war.
That way you’ll have effectively zero ability to influence local legislation / promote the interests of users.
Do you mean to imply you believe this would be a more optimal approach to the problem?
There’s perfect, and then there’s the dirty, mean, savage, brutal, beautiful world.
Edit to add:
> The company said it would no longer block accounts outside of mainland China at Beijing's request
Blocking accounts of non-Chinese at China’s request seem like an incredibly dumb move in the first instance.
I wonder what motivated them to comply with that request. Aren’t a lot of the Zoom devs based in China? It’d seem fairly trivial then for China to demand compliance via those employees based there.
People can basically rationalize any bad behavior - it really seems like a skill that has no limits up to and including genocide.
In practice, I think the negative impact of helping to enable censorship for an authoritarian country outweighs whatever (likely zero) influence you’d believe you’d have.
Sometimes to be on the right side of history the right thing to do is to walk away.
This is not a Google-like situation - for Zoom 'walking way' effectively means shutting down. They are very heavily Chinese based.
In the longer term, they could move operations, in which case the choice would be 'walk away from China' - but right now, it's more existential than that.
You might be right though.
It's really tempting to think that you're the good person helping in a messy situation (especially when it's also the easiest option to choose), but ultimately I think it's just rationalizing bad behavior.
I think most people believe they're 'good', even those doing the censorship in China do it under some belief that they're keeping stability and unity to prevent Trump like stupidity and western influence - or the rise of religious extremism. They're regular people doing regular jobs for something they think is good.
I think the actions matter, when you're doing bad things for some ambiguous influence I'm not sure how good you really are.
what can you expect, just use open source
> In January 2020, Zoom had over 2,500 employees, 1,396 are in the United States and 1,136 are in their international locations. Although 700 employees within a subsidiary work in China and develop Zoom software.
Zoom's product development team is largely based in China, where an average entry-level tech salary is one-third of American salaries, which is a key driver of its profitability.
Honestly an app only needs to operate out of one country. To have users in other countries, all that is needed is an open TCP/IP connection and a cross-border payment system (e.g. PayPal, bitcoin); it is not necessary for them to operate a local business entity, which would mean that they should not be subject to local laws.
Although this may be an unpopular opinion, and given the HN climate it's likely I'm going to get downvoted to hell for saying this, but I personally think the same should be true of GDPR. GDPR is an EU law and the EU has no right to impose its EU laws on the US or anywhere else. Neither does China. It doesn't matter if the laws are good or bad laws -- laws should stay within their jurisdiction. Letting the EU have their way is a slippery slope of a precedent for other countries who may have less-noble laws they want imposed on the US.
(That said, the US can implement its own version of GDPR for US businesses, but US businesses shouldn't be subject to EU laws).
Even in tourism there is some level of cross-border law enforcement, especially given international treaties.
So to me it makes sense that a company that wants to take money from (or even to serve content to) people in country A need to respect the laws of country A as a general rule.
Of course, the people of a company should be free to do what they believe is right, such as not upholding unjust laws. The law is not an excuse from moral duties. So I have no problem with companies flouting censorship or even copyright rules. I also don't have a major problem with companies enforcing somewhat benign censorship rules (by taking down content, not by going against individual users), such as imposing certain public decency laws (e.g. no swearing, even no blasphemy) when serving content to countries that prohibit this kind of behavior.
On the other hand, closing down accounts or giving over information about people who have broken those laws to regimes that may punish them brutally should not be taken lightly. You can scrub messages denigrating Mohammed from Saudi Arabian YouTube and that can be argued as respecting the tastes of your Saudi Arabian visitors. But that does not mean that it is also acceptable to report a user that made such a comment to the authorities there, knowing that they may be severely punished. In fact, scrubbing the comments could even help protect the individual who made them from the authorities enforcing the unjust law in that country.
The world is a subtle place and trying to apply simple rules to moral and ethical questions is a fool's errand.
I disagree with this. I have an open port at 80 and 443 and whoever wants to connect to it can do so. If my server is physically in the US, it only needs to obey US laws. If someone is violating their country's (weird) laws by visiting the server, that's that person's problem.
It's not my job as a developer, website host, or business owner, to for example ink out photos of women because Saudi law requires that. It's not my job to remove references to the Tiananmen incident. Those countries can, if they would like to, censor my website at their borders with a firewall, I don't care. It's not even my job to track down where your IP address is physically located. I couldn't care less about your IP. You could be using a VPN, for all I know.
Iran or China has issues with my website? They'll block it. Problem solved. I don't have to think about it too much. They do the work for me.
EU has beef with my website? Go ahead, you block it too, I don't care. I'll grab some popcorn and sit back and watch how your citizens react. (hee hee)
> And much more uncontroversially, if you are accepting payments from someone in another country, then you are definitely doing business in that country.
I disagree with this, as well, if those payments are coming from individuals and not businesses. If an individual in Germany flies over to the US and buys something from me, they are subject to US laws in that transaction. They are subject to German laws when they take that thing back. But in NO part of the entire process am I subject to German laws.
That doesn't change if "flies with an international flight" changes to "travels virtually via an international TCP connection".
That is not at all clear. In general, the place where I physically stand is the place whoze laws I expect to be affected by, in any transaction. Of course, this is also true of you sitting near your server, so there is a conflict.
Also, I suspect international commerce is more complex than that, and that if there were a conflict between German laws and US laws on the consumer's rights in your example, the German laws might have some power against you (well, probably not with the US specifically).
Granted, if significant revenue is generated they'll have to exist officially in one place or another in order to report the income, but not all such sites would need to generate such income, and could forgo it specifically for the purpose of violating local regulations in some cases.
But if you're in the US, and your servers are in the US, you shouldn't have to obey European laws. European site visitors are no different than physical European tourists in the US; the owners of those US museums and tourist sites don't need to obey European laws just because they have European visitors.
That’s what customs and border control is ultimately for: to ensure that goods being imported are compliant with local laws. In the case of data, this means national firewalls— something that would fundamentally change how the internet works.
But as a website host, I don't have to do anything.
Alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia. A Saudi citizen is free to buy alcohol during their visit to the US. They just can't take it back home of course. But the liquor store they visit in the US doesn't need to change their policies for that one customer, and doesn't even need to know which country their customer is from.
In practice, I think I would prefer the latter, even if it is less clear and purely logical. I mean, the US is railing against inquiries over war crimes this week. Though that particular action is entirely irrational, it seems unlikely that the USA would enforce GDPR on the behalf of the EU short of a very large company violating it flagrantly. If I run a local nonprofit in the US that serves the elderly of my community, and the EU-resident child of one of my clients donates to my organization, by which I wind up collecting their information--repercussions seem frankly very unlikely. Firstly, I doubt my non-profit would be pursued for such a violation by the offended nation, as they do have optics to maintain. Secondly, I have no physical presence in their jurisdiction against which to enforce the regulation, so my own government would have to enforce it on their behalf, which currently seems unlikely to me (though I'm not an expert on such things by any means).
Depending on their specific activities (information collection, in the case of GDPR); whether or not they are physically present in the jurisdiction of whatever regulation; and their home country's foreign relations with the foreign government who originated the internet law, a company can choose to comply with foreign internet law--or not--at varying degrees of risk. As messy as it is, this seems better than firewalls to me.
Perhaps explicit agreements with foreign governments are needed in this area. That seems preferable to firewalls, arbitrary risk-taking, or mindless compliance with a foreign law.
What are bad laws, whatever people socialised in the anglosphere deem bad? You don't have a monopoly on ethics, sorry. Companies should behave legally, they're not the extended arm of the respective culture they reside in, because if they are we will constantly pester each other with our respective moral values and that's a recipe for conflict.
The solution is pretty simple. Chinese companies need to stop censoring things in the US, the US needs to stop trying to spread its values beyond her own borders, and we can all do business in peace.
What we don't need is countries with messianic attitudes interfering in each other's affairs, and to give businesses primacy over the law in sovereign nations.
If EARN IT passes, the U.S. would be one of these countries.
They were planning to just censor whatever the CCP wanted from the beginning, their “mistake” was extending this to a US account because they don’t have the granularity to separate out mainland China users (which itself should be disturbing since they’re clearly not walling things off to protect accounts the CCP shouldn’t have access to).
They’re in this position because they don’t think what they’re doing is unethical in the first place.
I still think it’s wrong, I wouldn’t have been in China in the first place because of this.
Personal opinion but Zoom shouldn’t be allowed to undercut firms using developers based in liberal democracies and still have market access to the West.
You don't get to decide if other country's laws are bad, the people of that country do, and if they don't like it, it's up to them to do something about it with or without peace. The only exception is human rights violations which you didn't list in your opinion. Short of that, how dare you imply a company should break laws for political reasons? If Facebook helped russia inferfere with your elections would that be ok? because they agree with Russian politics or are you saying the western and democratic way is right and all else should only be tolerated when convenient?
Those are considered human rights under Articles 18–21 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yes, the UDHR represents largely the thinking of the Western elites in the years immediately after World War II, and it has been argued that its understanding of human rights is foreign to China and unacceptable to it. Nevertheless, the line between democratic rights and human rights is not as clear cut as you suggest.
Article 19: this one is silly, every government would persecute you for holding certain opinions even without expressing those opinions. Look at how alleged communists in the US were treated around the time this document was drafted. Or consider holding an ISIS or islamic terrorism symphatizing opinion,people have been detained and persecuted for far less. What if you are spreading the terrorist propaganda? No one will see that as your right.
Article 20) so all militaty draft violate human rights?
Article 21) citizens of any country that does not accept democracy are having their human rights violated?
The whole thing is silly. First of, most of the existing UN members did not sign. Of the members at the time, the vote to adopt this was not unanimous and therefore this document is not accepted by the sovreign governments of many nations at the time. You can say the UNDHR is the opinion of what some humans think a human right is,however it is far from a document all sovreign nations accepted as a defi ition of what rights humans have simply for being human. China and muslim countries combined alone would make up a population majority!
The UN is not an authority nations are subject to. UNDHR is not a treaty adopted by nations. It simply defines these trems as the western majority if the time saw it fit.
Now,there are rights almost all humans accept as rights such as the right to exist and the right to a fair trial (as applied by their society). These are obvious rights commonly accepted by most religions and an peoples.
Or if that isn't a good argument then consider that even the US (the sit of the UN) has been and is currently violating many of the UNDHR articles systemically, a US person should probably not talk about enforcing UNHDR against other countries. Everyone tolerating terrorists having propaganda zoom calls would be the only way I can accept UNHDR application of freedom to express opinion on other nations as a human rights.
My view: the UN is a diplomatic organization not an authority over nations. A document that can define universal human rights must be a treaty reviewed and accepted by legislative bodies of each signatory nation and it can be a universal right only if a super majority of nations and humans (counted by national populations) accept it as such. Look at the criticism section in wikipedia.
Ironically, those events were hosted for remembrance of those violations.
A fantastic approach meant at justifying non-interest, always present in the history of totalitarian regimes.
wait, what are human rights then?
You maybe a secularist,but even then you still need a legitimate authority all humans are subject to. That could be a global treaty (UNDHR isn't) or something else but there simply is no legitimate authority that can implement a universal human right. As things stand now, each sovreign nation's government declares what rights it's subjects have, both as citizens and humans. Not that I agree with the way things are, but I do believe in each nation's right for self determination. But I think there is a fundamental question of why and if a nation should maintain any sort of economic or diplomatic relations with a country that has contradictory views on human rights.
It's not that I agree with China's stance on human rights, but more that the west needs to take care of human rights in it's own borders first and even then how can you support China by maintaining trade relations and at the same time claim they violate human rights? Why is the west supporting human rights violations?
That's a nice idea, but China's approach is to deplatform those conversations.
Funny how these kind of statements are thrown around wherever something is blown up about Zoom. I'm one of those who had goodwill on Zoom but looking at the amount of issues popped up recently and their "Yeah this was intentional but I'm sorry next it it won't happen' response Pattern indicates that the company is aimed at only one thing - Growth at any cost
Facebook could very well be an outlier. If it isn't, it could definitely go away in the coming years.
In any case, that shows that its revenue/income is not a predictor of anything. When a company spirals down, it does so at an accelerating rate and can quickly burn through any amount of cash.
They don't sell ads or your personal data, they're not interested in your private life, and their users are their customer. In other words, they lack the nefarious motive of the Facebooks of the world.
They're changing - rapidly - and I believe we can take their efforts to change at face value.
No. It lacks the obvious, commercial nefarious motives of the Facebooks of the world.
As many have pointed out, Zoom is believed to be CCP-controlled at some level. That's as nefarious as it gets.
On balance I think the US is a lot better than China, but there's a lot of room for improvement.
But not inside China. And therein lies the great difference.
You believe it's unjust to have those FB/Twitter accounts shutdown and you host a Zoom call to build a campaign to voice out. Your local government ask Zoom to shut you down. Zoom then deletes your account as well as those of your allies in Vanezuela and Iran. On top of that, the local law requires Zoom to give data to identify you at which point your life is at risk or a jail term without a trial.
That's what those people face in China.
Aren’t you a CCP member?
(Sorry in advance if you take offense to me assuming your nationality and political allegiance based on your comment history.)
So, while they are incorporated in the US and have significant presence in their HQ, their ties to China are stronger than the more-commonly-discussed outsourced-engineering sort of relationship.
Zoom is NOT a Chinese company. It is incorporated in and headquartered in the US. Like any American company ever, it follows US laws in the US, and local laws in other companies where it operates. End of story.
Yes their culture certainly has stronger cultural internal ties to China, due to the number of Chinese employees, but what has that got to do with anything? At the end of the day, they're a public, profit-driven corporation trying to make lots of money across the entire world.
It's not like they're secretly and nefariously doing the CCP's bidding, which seems to be the veiled suggestion people keep making.
Seriously, every time someone brings up that Zoom is "really" a Chinese company, it comes across as borderline racism or conspiracy-mongering or both. And while I'd usually never comment on someone using a throwaway account, in this case when you're pushing these kinds of shady "stronger than the more-commonly-discussed" insituations, I think using a throwaway here is representative of exactly the kind of astroturfing that spreads malicious rumors without evidence.
If it isn't meant to tap into some kind of prejudice against Chinese people, then what is the purpose of spreading false rumors like that?
You can of course be against the Chinese government. But when you start fearmongering that a public American company is "actually Chinese", "more than commonly discussed"... based on zero evidence except that the company has a lot of Chinese people... then if it's not meant to trigger veiled racism, what is it meant to trigger otherwise?
Since, again, Zoom is not part of and has nothing to do with the Chinese government, except for when it obeys the government in its operations within China, like every other American company has to do too.
The main players are under CCP command.
Can you please explain how you think the board members and management of Zoom -- an American publicly traded company -- report to the CCP?
Because that is certainly not what your Wikipedia link says.
Ah I see that we have different definitions of main players. I'm thinking of developers who are able to mess with the code. But the Wikipedia does support what my definition of main players means.
Just because the board doesn't report to CCP doesn't mean that someone significant in the 700 isn't an assent of the CCP and able to do significant damage.
Zoom's filings disclose that in fact.
And you are aware that Zoom's founder, Eric Yuan, is an American citizen? He grew up Chinese, but he acquired American citizenship, and therefore lost his Chinese citizenship. He and his family live in California where they're not going to be "disappeared".
So explain to me again why you think Zoom's founder and CEO, or its board members representing prominent venture capital firms, are doing the "bidding of the CCP"?
I'm not engaging in any kind of false equivalence or defending China. I'm pointing out that Zoom and China are totally different things. Using Zoom doesn't mean you're supporting China or being spied on by China. It's an American company, not a Chinese one.
Why don't you stop making false statements?
Zoom allows you to specifically choose where your servers are located, e.g. to avoid China specifically if you want:
I don't dispute China might compel Zoom to reveal user activity within the country. But there's no legal mechanism for China to do so for communication that doesn't pass through China. And Zoom's entire business reputation hinges on that.
Please stop spreading disinformation on HN.
If the world could agree, we can legistlate these companies to be neutral and grant then protection from some state lawsuits if they don't enforce standards that aren't globally agreed upon (by the UN for instance).
It will be tricky because that means admitting that internet companies are their own independent states and many countries will not be happy with that.
That's as good as saying "we will kill puppies if local laws require it as Zoom seeks to promote fair treatment of animals." They aren't promoting "open exchange of ideas" and likely never will. Zoom have continuously proven to be profit driven. This is perfectly fine, so long as they don't lie about it (they lie like they breath).
Furthermore, if you are an activist and are using Zoom, you have none of my pity. They have proven their beliefs at every possible opportunity, and then some, for months. You really have to start questioning your belief patterns and critical thinking if you are sharing anything remotely confidential or private on Zoom. Using Zoom for basically anything is the equivalent of "not being able to program the video tape recorder." It's not applying enough thought to the trivial problem at hand, and subjecting yourself to turmoil due to that.
We don't need legal structures for this. Just stop using stupid products, Zoom being one of the best examples.