Slack, an enterprise software platform for teams and businesses to communicate, has suddenly revoked the accounts of select users in compliance with US sanctions on Iran. Some users, all with connections to Iran, have said that although their access to paid accounts remains, they have lost access to the free public Slack groups.
Reportedly, the administrators of the public groups were not notified that certain members were going to have thier access suspended. Disabled accounts include that of a University of British Columbia PhD student, a researcher studying at the Technical University of Munich and many other Twitter users who reported personal travel to Iran in recent years, or had any recent connection with the Iranian IP address. Slack sent the following statement to users who had their access revoked:
“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 utilize 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 protected] and we’ll review as soon as possible.”
Following its initial explanation, the workplace chat app sent out to an apology to users, admitting that it made "a series of mistakes and inadvertently deactivated number of accounts that we shouldn't have" upon complying with the US trade embargoes and economic santions. And reiterated that it did not block any user simply because of their nationality or ethnicity.
Slack says it has restored access for most of those that were mistakenly blocked and are working on fixing the issue for the remaining people.
In future, people visiting embargoed countries will be unable to access Slack while they are in one of those countries, but their access will be returned once they are no longer in the country or region.