Feds: Zoom Executive Interrupted Meetings at Direction of Chinese Communist Govt

Counter-protesters hold up Chinese flags to oppose the protesters gathering in central London to attend a march organised by StandwithHK and D4HK in support of Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, on August 17, 2019. - Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement faces a major test this weekend as it tries to muster …
ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors have charged Zoom executive Zinjian Jin over his alleged efforts to restrict speech on the video conferencing platform that is critical of the Chinese government. Jin reportedly participated in an effort to shut down Zoom events about the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

According to a report by the New York Times, federal prosecutors have charged Zoom executive Zinjuan Jin over his alleged participation in an effort to shut down critics of the Chinese government. Jin, who was based out of Zoom’s office in China, was fired by the company this week after the charges were made public.

Jin reportedly logged onto Zoom events about the Tiananmen Square Massacre posing as a terrorist. Then, Jin would flag the event and have them shut down as a violation of the platform’s terms of service. Jin reportedly targeted meetings that were deemed problematic by the Chinese government.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement that the Chinese government often works to undermine companies as part of an effort to advance their own agenda.

“Americans should understand that the Chinese government will not hesitate to exploit companies operating in China to further their international agenda, including repression of free speech,” Wray said.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement that the Chinese government will continue to interfere with American businesses operating in China.

No company with significant business interests in China is immune from the coercive power of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese Communist Party will use those within its reach to sap the tree of liberty, stifling free speech in China, the United States and elsewhere about the Party’s repression of the Chinese people.  For companies with operations in China, like that here, this reality may mean executives being coopted to further repressive activity at odds with the values that have allowed that company to flourish here.”

Breitbart News reported last week that a researcher at a medical research facility in Ohio pleaded guilty after conspiring to steal trade secrets and sell them to the Chinese government.

A Zoom spokesperson provided the following statement to Breitbart News:

Zoom is dedicated to the free and open exchange of ideas and supports the U.S. Government’s commitment to protect American interests from foreign influence. As the DOJ notes, Zoom has been fully cooperating with them in this matter. We have also been conducting a thorough internal investigation.

While the DOJ did not share with us its factual allegations in advance of the public release of the complaint, we learned during the course of our investigation that the China-based former employee charged today violated Zoom’s policies by, among other things, attempting to circumvent certain internal access controls. We also learned that this former employee took actions resulting in the termination of several meetings and accounts, and shared or directed the sharing of a limited amount of individual user data with Chinese authorities. At this stage in our investigation, and with the exception of user data for fewer than ten individual users, we do not believe this former employee or any other Zoom employee provided the Chinese government with user data of non-China-based users. The former employee also potentially shared meeting information for a Tiananmen Square remembrance. There is no indication that any enterprise data was shared with the Chinese government. We terminated this individual’s employment for violating company policies. We have also placed other employees on administrative leave pending the completion of our investigation.

As the DOJ makes clear, every American company, including Zoom and our industry peers, faces challenges when doing business in China. We have taken actions to make our values clear. We issued our Government Requests Guide in July, through which we subject any government request to a careful review, prioritizing the privacy, security, and safety of our users at all times. We have also made tremendous investments in our platform and have implemented robust policies and safeguards. For example, we launched our end-to-end encryption feature to free and paid users worldwide and have significantly enhanced our internal access controls. We have also ceased the sale of direct and online services in China and launched engineering hubs in the United States, India, and Singapore. We will continue to act aggressively to anticipate and combat ever-evolving data security challenges.

Zoom has experienced exponential growth this year, surpassing more than 300 million daily meeting participants – many of them for free – and more than 30 times our maximum daily participants just one year ago. In that time, we’ve expanded from a communications platform focused on business customers into one that serves everybody. We take our responsibility to our users extremely seriously, and we are honored to have helped individuals, schools, hospitals, governments, and businesses stay connected throughout the pandemic. We remain committed to continuously improving so that we can fulfill the expectations of our users.

For additional information, including information regarding the allegations contained in the DOJ’s announcement from earlier today and the ongoing governmental and internal investigations, please see our corporate blog, which we will update with any further communications about today’s announcement.

We have also updated our June 11 blog post regarding the meetings in remembrance of Tiananmen Square to reflect information we have recently learned.

Breitbart News will continue to report on Zoom and the Chinese government.

Update — Added a statement from Zoom.

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