And, “data of free users outside of China will never be routed through China.”
Controversial video conferencing service provider Zoom has announced that it will allow all paying customers to explicitly choose which data center their calls are routed from come April 18. This will include both opt in as well as opt out options, although Zoom notes that users won’t be able to opt out of their default region. And, “data of free users outside of China will never be routed through China.”
The privacy-preserving changes come days after it was found that Zoom calls were until recently being ‘mistakenly’ routed through China — for non-China users. Something that Zoom even acknowledged following a hard-hitting University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab report.
“In our urgency to come to the aid of people around the world during this unprecedented pandemic, we added server capacity and deployed it quickly — starting in China, where the outbreak began. In that process, we failed to fully implement our usual geo-fencing best practices. As a result, it is possible certain meetings were allowed to connect to systems in China, where they should not have been able to connect,” Zoom CEO Eric Yuan had said in a blog post.
In the absence of strict data privacy laws, in China, there’s growing concern that the government could get access to the contents of these Zoom calls as and when necessary, and Zoom might be forced to oblige accordingly.
Zoom has since fixed the issue and confirmed that “we will prevent these kinds of problems in the future.” As of April 3, Zoom has removed all its HTTPS tunneling servers in China to prevent “any inadvertent connection through China.” Though this is the first time it is putting out a firm stance to assure users that there won’t be any leniency — hopefully — when it comes to routing their data, or rather, keeping the data of non-China users from routing through China.
Zoom currently has data centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, Australia, China, Latin America, and Japan/Hong Kong.
Zoom is in the middle of a 90-day feature freeze mode where it is now dedicating all its resources to secure its platform first — rather than building new features — after it has come to light that the service is, in fact, a privacy nightmare with more and more loopholes being discovered more or less frequently now.