Video conferencing platform Zoom has announced that it will stop direct sales to customers in mainland China in just a few weeks. Customers based in China who wish to continue using the company’s services will need to go through local third-party partners instead.
Although users based in China will no longer be able to purchase products directly from Zoom starting August 23, the company has recommended several authorized partners in the country that offer services using Zoom technology. These would include Bizconf Communications, Suirui Zhumu Video Conference and Systec Umeet.
“Our market model in mainland China includes direct sales, online subscription and sales through partners. We are now moving to an exclusive partnership model with Zoom technology integrated into partner offerings, which will provide better local support to users in mainland China, ”a Zoom spokesperson said.
Users in Mainland China can continue to participate
to Zoom meetings as participants, added the
The company’s ties to China scrutinized
The video conferencing platform had already started to distance itself from its Chinese user base last May, when it limited new user registrations in the country to companies only. Existing free users continued to be able to participate in meetings, but were not allowed to host meetings themselves.
Zoom was founded in the United States, but the company’s ties to China have come under intense scrutiny. In June, U.S. Senators Josh Hawley and Richard Blumenthal pointed out in a letter regarding Zoom and TikTok that although Zoom is headquartered in the United States, it appears the app is being developed by at least three companies in China, including 700. country employees who work in research and development.
“We believe it is imperative that the Justice Department investigate and determine whether Zoom and TikTok’s business relationships, data handling practices, and operational connections with China pose a risk to Americans,” the officials said. senators.
Increased efforts to weaken these links
The letter followed reports that Zoom had mistakenly provided encryption keys for servers in China to participants outside the country. Citizen Lab, the Canadian laboratory behind the discoveries, stressed that the company could be legally compelled to disclose these keys to Chinese authorities.
Zoom CEO Eric Yuan admitted that the slippage may have occurred when the platform quickly increased the capacity of his Chinese region to cope with the massive increase in demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Eric Yuan stressed, however, that non-Chinese data was only routed to China “under extremely limited circumstances.”
At the same time, Zoom was criticized for suspending the account of a pro-democracy dissident in China at the request of the Chinese government. This has raised fears that the platform supports censorship in the country. Although the account was eventually restored, the company admitted it needed to find better rules to meet the demands of local authorities. “Going forward, Zoom will not allow Chinese government requests to impact anyone outside of mainland China,” the group said.
The latest decision to cease direct sales to mainland China therefore appears to be part of the company’s increased efforts to weaken its ties with the country.