Slack apologizes after customers who travelled to Iran had their accounts shut down

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Stewart Butterfield Slack

  • On Wednesday, many customers who had traveled to Iran discovered that their Slack accounts shut down due to U.S. sanctions, although they didn’t dwell in Iran, nor did they’ve skilled hyperlinks to Iran.
  • On Friday, Slack despatched out an apology to its customers and clarified that it didn’t have details about customers’ ethnicities, however used location data.
  • Slack is engaged on restoring mistakenly blocked accounts and can quickly begin blocking accounts with IP addresses in an embargoed nation.

$7 billion office chat app Slack apologized on Friday for mistakenly shutting down the accounts of a number of customers this week in its efforts to adjust to US sanctions in the direction of nations like Iran. 

Slack stated that it makes use of location data corresponding to IP addresses to dam customers from nations affected by US commerce embargoes and financial sanctions, and that in doing so it “inadvertently de-activated” the accounts of sure customers. The corporate didn’t specify how the error was made, however pressured that it didn’t block any customers primarily based on nationality or ethnicity. 

Learn extra: It appears like Slack, the $7 billion chat app, is banning some customers due to Iran sanctions — even when they do not dwell or work in Iran

Earlier this week, a number of ethnically Iranian customers tweeted their considerations that their accounts had been abruptly shut down although they did not dwell in Iran or have any skilled ties to the nation. One PhD pupil in British Columbia questioned on Twitter what Slack’s foundation was for figuring out his ethnicity. 

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“We don’t gather, use, or possess any details about the nationality or ethnicity of our customers,” Slack stated on Friday. 

A number of of the affected customers had stated they just lately travelled to Iran, which can have brought on Slack to flag their IP addresses.

Slack stated it is engaged on restoring mistakenly blocked accounts, and apologized for not dealing with the communication nicely. The corporate additionally famous that it will quickly start blocking accounts with IP addresses related to an embargoed nation and stated that customers touring to a sanctioned nation could quickly not have the ability to entry their account.

Under is Slack’s full apology:

Two days in the past, we up to date our system for making use of location data to adjust to U.S. commerce embargoes and financial sanctions laws.

Quickly after updating, we found that we made a sequence of errors and inadvertently deactivated plenty of accounts that we shouldn’t have. We acknowledge the disruption and inconvenience this brought on and we sincerely apologize to the individuals affected by our actions. The truth is, we additionally apologize to the individuals whose accounts we supposed to disable with a view to adjust to these laws. We didn’t deal with the communication nicely and in each circumstances we did not dwell as much as our personal requirements for courtesy and customer-centricity.

We didn’t block any person primarily based on their nationality or ethnicity. As is commonplace within the enterprise software program business, Slack makes use of location data principally derived from IP addresses to implement these required blocks. We don’t gather, use, or possess any details about the nationality or ethnicity of our customers.

We’ve got restored entry to many of the mistakenly blocked accounts, and we’re working onerous to revive any remaining customers whose entry was blocked in error. When you suppose we’ve made a mistake in blocking your entry, please attain out to suggestions@slack.com and we’ll evaluate as quickly as doable.

We might additionally wish to notify our customers that as we proceed to replace our programs over the subsequent a number of weeks, we’ll quickly start blocking entry to our service from IP addresses related to an embargoed nation. Customers who journey to a sanctioned nation could not have the ability to entry Slack whereas they continue to be in that nation. Nonetheless, we won’t deactivate their account and they’ll have the ability to entry Slack once they return to nations or areas for which no blocking is required.

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