Zoom clarifies stance on links with China, says Indian government never called it unsafe

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June 22, 2020 3:18 PM

Zoom's comments are in response to reports that the cloud-based video conferencing platform has been red-flagged by intelligence agencies in India.

zoomZoom said that the Government of India never called the platform unsafe. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Zoom released a couple of statements on Monday in response to the ongoing chit-chatter allegedly linking the US-headquartered company with China. This comes only days after Zoom acknowledged that it had been open to impacting user accounts outside of mainland China (which means, virtually anybody) at the behest of the Chinese government until very recently. It doesn’t do that anymore, it also said recently. And, Zoom calls were until recently being “mistakenly” routed through China — for non-China users.

“There have been several media reports implying that the Zoom Video Communications Platform (Zoom) is a Chinese app. This is incorrect. Zoom is a US corporation, founded and headquartered in San Jose, California, and publicly traded on the NASDAQ. While we have subsidiaries in China and in many other parts of the world, like so many of our global peers, our operations and business are controlled by a leadership team in the US,” a Zoom spokesperson said in an email statement.

Zoom has given out this statement “specifically” in response to reports that the cloud-based video conferencing platform has been red-flagged by intelligence agencies in India, along with over 50 apps with links to China. The Government, as we speak, is said to be examining the risks involved with using these apps on a per app basis and while it hasn’t banned any of them yet, the possibility can’t be ruled out entirely. Things are looking darker for Zoom, in particular, since it has been in the Government’s radar for a while now.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had put out a detailed advisory for Zoom users in India in April, to safeguard their virtual meetings from prying eyes, deeming the video conferencing platform not secure or unsafe. The Government’s advisory had come just days after the country’s nodal cyber security agency, CERT-In, had raised an alarm about how Zoom was prone to cyberattacks.

Zoom, on Monday, also said that the Government of India never called the platform unsafe. “The reports representing that an advisory released by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) claiming that the Zoom platform is unsafe was based on earlier advisories by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In). However, this is incorrect,” the spokesperson said, adding that “the advisories and notes are primarily designed for public safety and awareness, intended to increase cyber hygiene practices and encourage safe usage of digital platforms.”

Zoom said that the CERT-In has released several such advisories specific to their platform since 2019, “a practice (that is) followed for all major technology companies.”

But more importantly, “to date, there has not been a single release from CERT-In that has identified the Zoom platform as unsafe. This erroneous representation of CERT-In’s Zoom related releases has also been informed to the CyCord division of the MHA,” the spokesperson said.

Clearly, this is in contradiction with what the MHA had observed in its advisory with the Government being clear about the fact that “Zoom is not a safe platform.” Zoom’s latest response is therefore both bold and questionable at the same time, at a time when the Government of India isn’t really impressed with its security and privacy parameters.

The Government of India hasn’t banned Zoom in the country yet, though Government officials as well as those who may use it for work purposes, have been barred from video calling/conferencing through Zoom largely.

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