Slack Apologized and Restored Access to Some Blocked Accounts

Slack posted an apology and an update after its controversial decision to block accounts of users who had visited and logged on from Iran. Slack acknowledges that it did not handle communication well in regards to their decision to block some users.

The problem appears to have happened when Slack updated its system for applying location information to comply with U.S. trade embargoes and economic sanctions regulations.

Soon after updating, we discovered that we made a series of mistakes and inadvertently deactivated a number of accounts that we shouldn’t have. We recognize the disruption and inconvenience this caused and we sincerely apologize to the people affected by our actions. In fact, we also apologize to the people whose accounts we intended to disable in order to comply with these regulations. We did not handle the communication well and in both cases we failed to live up to our own standards for courtesy and customer-centricity.

Slack says it did not block any user based on their nationality or ethnicity. What happened was, at least in part, because Slack uses location information principally derived from IP addresses to implement required blocks.

In my opinion, Slack did the right thing by publicly apologizing for its mistake and also for providing an explanation of what happened. They are being transparent about what led to their mistake. In addition, Slack says it is working hard to restore access to users who access was blocked in error. Slack also provided an email address where users can let Slack know if they made a mistake in blocking a specific user’s access.

It is worth noting, however, that Slack will continue to update their systems over the next few weeks and will be blocking service to IP addresses associated with an embargoed country.

If you travel to an embargoed country, you will temporarily lose Slack access while you are there. I suppose this could potentially affect people who travel to certain countries to visit family over the holidays.