Some Slack users have reported their accounts being closed after they visited certain countries under sanctions in the US.
Users of popular messaging app Slack yesterday (20 December) reported that their accounts had been deactivated, with the bans affecting people living in the US, Canada and even as far as Finland, according to reports.
Crackdown on sanctioned countries
Many of the users affected visited Iran, so the change from Slack is being interpreted as an implementation of US sanctions on Iran.
According to TechCrunch, some users had access to free and public Slack groups denied, while retaining their paid accounts. Administrators of such public groups were not given advance notice about the account terminations that would affect some members.
Those hit with the ban reported receiving the following message via email: “In order to comply with export control and economic sanctions laws … Slack prohibits unauthorised use of its products and services in certain sanctioned countries. We’ve identified your team/account as originating from one of these countries and are closing the account effective immediately.”
Users affected included a PhD student at the University of British Columbia, as well as an array of Twitter users who reported personal visits to Iran in the last number of years.
Slack says system upgrade to blame
In a statement, Slack said: “Slack complies with the US regulations related to embargoed countries and regions, as does every US-based company. We updated our system for applying geolocation information, which relies on IP addresses, and that led to the deactivations for accounts tied to embargoed countries. We only utilise IP addresses to take these actions.
“We do not possess information about nationality or the ethnicity of our users. If users think we’ve made a mistake in blocking their access, please reach out to email@example.com and we’ll review as soon as possible.”
The company added that these US sanctions also forbid use of its platform in Syria, Cuba, North Korea and the “Crimea region of Ukraine”. Affected people have been sharing their experiences using the hashtag #SlackBan.