Three US lawmakers have asked Zoom Video Communications Inc to clarify its data-collection practices and relationship with the Chinese government in the wake of news reports that came in yesterday where the company had blocked and deleted the accounts of three Tiananmen Square protestors at the behest of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) diktat. Zoom is a Silicon Valley-based firm that is led by a Chinese-American billionaire Eric Yuan.
The Chinese-American founder of the app Eric Yuan has been asked by the senators to prove that he does not have any allegiances to China. Republican Senator Josh Hawley shot a letter to Yuan asking him to “pick a side” between the United States and China.
In May and early June, the red-authoritarian Chinese government had dictated Zoom that four Tiananmen Square-related meetings will be held on the platform and were being widely publicized. Eric Yuan and his firm Zoom have repeatedly denied any connections with China, but in this case, Zoom took immediate cognizance of CCP’s diktat and banned all the virtual protestors. After a serious backlash, Zoom tried to come clean with an unhelpful explanation.
“The Chinese government informed us that this activity is illegal in China and demanded that Zoom terminate the meetings and host accounts,” Zoom had said in its official statement.
This move of Zoom has brought a lot of scrutiny around the company and its policies which seem to have a soft spot for the CCP regime. Suspicion of Zoom’s ties with CCP and China is being strengthened with every incident that’s coming into light.
Unlike Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other Western platforms, Zoom is not banned in China and its download numbers are staggering in the country. One might presume, Eric Yuan has struck a quid-pro-quo deal with CCP. After all, some servers of Zoom are based in China, handled by another CCP stooge company Alibaba. Alibaba and its founder Jack Ma has openly admitted to his allegiance to CCP as he is a member of the party.
Zoom has admitted to routing its user’s messages through the Chinese servers and with shady end-to-end encryption service, the Xi Jinping regime must be getting hold of a lot of sensitive information.
These encryption keys were distributed through Chinese servers, which is bad news for anyone using the application as Zoom can be legally compelled by the Chinese Government to hand over these keys citing National Security laws. The AES-128 encryption keys, which are passing through Beijing can then be easily decrypted by CCP.
Zoom is a company that is listed in the US on the NASDAQ, but the software appears to be developed by three companies in China, all known as Ruanshi Software, only two of which are owned by Zoom. The ownership of the third company, also known as American Cloud Video Software Technology, is unknown.
Also, Eric Yuan has over 700 employees in China, which in first cursory glance would not seem that big of an issue given Zoom is an MNC but it becomes a contentious issue as it opens Zoom to pressure from the Chinese government which can use these 700-odd employees as leverage to extract the intimate details of its users for surveillance.
The theory that Eric Yuan is a part of China’s propaganda and surveillance machinery ‘United Front’ cannot be outrightly rejected. After all, Eric was born in Shandong, China in 1970 and studied at Shandong University of Science and Technology and China University of Mining and Technology before coming to American soil in 1997.
Yuan’s apparent links to China can spell doom for the company as the US authorities look to corner the company. For every leak that Eric Yuan seems to have fixed in the hull of his company, several more emerge and it has been going around in a vicious cycle for the last 3-4 months.
It’s only about time when the long list of security vulnerabilities of Zoom and Yuan’s connection to CCP catches up. Simply put, Zoom is another espionage tool developed by the Communist country to infiltrate countries and steal their sensitive data where Eric Yuan and Zoom are only a pawn of CCP and its sinister motives.