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Image credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has sent a list of questions to U.S. video-conferencing company Zoom after it closed the accounts of several Chinese activists at Beijing's request.

Why it matters: Zoom is now used by hundreds of millions worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic, making its security and privacy policies a matter of widespread concern.

Details: The letter — dated June 12 and signed by 12 senators, led by Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden — expresses concern over Zoom's actions and presses CEO Eric Yuan for more information.

  • The lawmakers asked how many accounts Zoom has closed at the Chinese government's request; whether Zoom regularly shares data with the Chinese government; and whether Zoom or its Chinese partners have Chinese Communist Party committees embedded in them, as Beijing now requires of many foreign and domestic companies.

What they're saying: "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."

The big picture: Zoom is caught up in a conflict between the democratic values of the country where it is based, and the authoritarian system of the country where some of its workforce and consumer base is located.

Go deeper: Zoom closed account of U.S.-based Chinese activist “to comply with local law”

Go deeper

Sep 16, 2020 - Podcasts

A historic peace agreement

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington on Tuesday to commemorate new peace accords with the UAE and Bahrain — the first Arab states in a quarter-century to normalize relations with Israel. The move could have major impacts on the future of the region, including possible compromises on relations with the Palestinians and annexation of the West Bank.

Sep 15, 2020 - World

Report: How democracies can push back on China's growing tech dominance

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A group of researchers from Europe, the U.S. and Japan are proposing a "tech alliance" of democratic countries in response to the Chinese government's use of technology standards and its tech sector as instruments of state power abroad, according to a version of the proposal viewed by Axios.

Why it matters: Technological rivalry may dominate the 21st century world. But so far, democratic nations have not yet acted in concert to shape standards and secure their infrastructure in the face of a strong authoritarian challenge.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

German election: Exit polls show close race to succeed Angela Merkel

SPD leader Olaf Scholz. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BERLIN — Exit polls from Sunday's German elections showed the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) slightly ahead of the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in a tight election race to succeed Angela Merkel.

State of play: Official results were still rolling in, but a partial count showed the SPD ahead with 26% of the vote and the CDU on just over 24%.