A team of researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, discovered that some traffic from Zoom was being sent through Beijing – even when all participants on the Zoom call were in North America.
It has also been revealed that Zoom has several hundred employees in China — that number is growing.
This is a bombshell for a company suspected of allowing the Chinese government free access to communications.
While Zoom is headquartered in the United States, and listed on the NASDAQ, the founder and director is a Chinese citizen, born and raised in China. The app is also open in China, which according to Chinese law, means that the Chinese government can get access to their database if needed.
The Zoom app in mainland China appears to be developed by three companies in China, which all have the name Ruanshi Software. Two of the three companies are owned by Zoom, whereas one is owned by an entity called 美国云视频软件技术有限公司 (“American Cloud Video Software Technology Co., Ltd.”). Chinese companies often like to use foreign names to throw off Chinese origin. This could also be one of the reasons why Zoom has a dot.US web address – making it feel more American.
Recent job postings for Ruanshi Software in Suzhou, China, include open positions for C++ coders, Android and iOS app developers, and testing engineers.
Zoom’s most recent SEC filing shows that the company employs at least 700 employees in China that work in “research and development.” This opens Zoom to direct pressure from Chinese authorities.
Taiwan became the first nation to ban Zoom when they learned their their communications traffic was being routed through Beijing.
The government of India has now also said that Zoom is not safe. “Zoom is a not a safe platform,” the Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord) of India’s ministry of home affairs said in a 16-page (PDF) advisory. “Platform not for use by government officers/officials for official purposes,” said Press Bureau of India in a statement.
Germany has now also banned Zoom.
Several companies including Google, Apple, NASA, and Tesla have also warned their employees from using Zoom, because of suspected access of information by the Chinese government, as BTJ reported last month.
BTJ is a paying customer of ZOOM and has reached out to ZOOM by both phone and email to ask if their software is open to the Chinese government. ZOOM could not answer the question in person or by email, which leads us to assume that our suspicions were correct – the Chinese government DOES have access to ZOOM conference calls if they request it.
BTJ has other safety measures in place to know if our conferences are being viewed by outside parties and is currently looking for an alternative software to ZOOM that is more secure.