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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Zoom Being Probed by SEC, Two U.S. Attorneys Offices

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Zoom Video Communications Inc, said it has provided information to multiple U.S. prosecutors and regulators regarding interactions with China and other overseas governments, as well as security and user privacy matters.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and two U.S. Attorney’s offices have been investigating Zoom for months, the San Jose, California-based company said Friday in a blog post and a filing.

The videoconferencing company disclosed the legal and regulatory scrutiny the same day a former employee was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for assisting China to block a remote gathering on the service commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising.

The China-based staffer, Xinjiang Jin, who also goes by “Julien Jin,” was charged in absentia for conspiring to censor Chinese dissidents by disrupting the Zoom conference in June. Jin was meant to be Zoom’s liaison with Chinese authorities on national security requests, but instead did the government’s bidding in concert with other employees, prosecutors said.

Zoom said it terminated Jin’s employment during the course of an internal investigation, and has placed employees suspected of assisting him on leave until it completes the inquiry.

The videoconferencing provider also said it had received a grand jury subpoena in June from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, requesting information about interactions with foreign governments and political parties, including the Chinese government. The federal prosecutors also sought details on the company’s storage of and access to user data, its privacy policies and its actions around the Tiananmen meetings that Jin had allegedly disrupted.

In July, Zoom received subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and the SEC. Both sought documents and information about security and privacy matters, such as Zoom’s data encryption, how the company calculates usage metrics and public disclosures about each.

The prosecutors also asked for information about contact between Zoom employees and representatives of the Chinese government, as well as if a foreign government had ever tried to or succeeded in influencing the company’s policies, practices or actions relating to U.S.-based users. Zoom said it was “fully cooperating” with the inquiries.

Zoom’s popularity has exploded during the coronavirus pandemic with millions of people forced to remain at home to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. In Nigeria it has become the go-to teleconferencing application.

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