In a big development that could washout tech app Zoom’s credibility, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has accused ZOOM of leaking information to the Chinese Communist Party and also interrupting calls that go against Chinese interests. Zoom’s executive Xinjiang Jin is accused of terminating accounts of several American citizens and interrupting video calls about the 1989 massacre of community activists in Tiananmen Square, as confirmed by the Justice Department. The recent blowback about the executive’s actions were mentioned by the FBI on Friday in a Brooklyn federal the court which questions the company’s security for protecting their user’s data from the Chinese government that seek to have political and communist agendas to suppress American people inside their country and across its borders.
China is notorious for censoring any topic related to the Tiananmen Square incident where thousands of pro-democracy protestors were massacred by the establishment. This censorship has now reached a stage where a Zoom executive has been bought to act in accordance with the Chinese. There have also been reports where the Chinese government extends this censorship to social media outside of its borders of China mainland.
The company’s billionaire chief executive, Eric Yuan, was born in China but moved to Silicon Valley in the late ‘90s, where he worked for the video start-up WebEx before founding Zoom in 2011. Zoom employs more than 2,500 people around the world, including, as of last year, more than 500 in China who develop the software installed in computers around the world.
A Zoom spokesperson said in a statement Friday that the company has cooperated with the case and launched its own internal investigation. Jin, the company said, shared “a limited amount of individual user data with Chinese authorities,” as well as data on no more than 10 users based outside China. Jin was fired for violating company policies, the statement said, and other employees have been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.
Wang Dan, a Chinese dissident whose Zoom call on Tiananmen Square was also disrupted this spring, said the case showed how China could threaten free expression for people in the West. “Interfering with the freedom of speech of those who have settled and lived in the United States in exile is … a serious attack to American sovereignty,” he told The Washington Post. “The American people should also pay more attention to the [Chinese Communist Party’s] threat of American democracy.”
(With inputs from The Washington Post)