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Zoom China exec accused of working for government

The Justice Department has accused a China-based Zoom executive of sending Chinese dissidents' personal information to the government. Zoom has fired exec Xinjiang Jin.

Zoom has fired a China-based executive accused of sending Chinese dissidents' personal information to the government and shutting down video conferences commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Last week, Zoom fired executive Xinjiang Jin after the U.S. Justice Department charged him with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to transfer a means of identification. Zoom also placed several other employees on administrative leave pending the completion of an internal investigation.

Jin would face up to 10 years in prison if tried in the United States. However, he lives in China, and there is no extradition treaty between the two countries.

In a statement, Seth DuCharme, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the case highlights the insider threat that U.S. companies face in China. The complaint also "lays bare the Faustian bargain" that the Chinese government demands of U.S. technology companies doing business in the country.

According to the federal complaint, Jin worked closely with China's government to silence political and religious speech on Zoom's platform. He worked with unnamed others to terminate at least four Zoom meetings that commemorated the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Zoom customers in the United States organized the video conferences.

As a pretext to terminate the meetings, Jin and unnamed co-conspirators created fake accounts to make it seem like the meeting hosts supported terrorist organizations, incited violence or distributed child pornography. Jin also relayed to the Chinese government the names, IP addresses and email addresses of Zoom customers living outside of China, the complaint said.

Zoom has taken steps to protect cross-country meetings. The company recently deployed technology to block participants based on geography to comply with local laws without affecting participants in other countries.

In October 2019, Zoom appointed Jin as a contact for Chinese law enforcement, the company said in a statement. The appointment came a month after the government turned off its service, saying it needed an in-house designated employee to comply with Chinese law and resume operations.

This year, Zoom has also had to contend with legal troubles in the United States. In November, it settled a Federal Trade Commission suit accusing the company of "deceptive and unfair practices" that undermined user security. In March, subscribers filed two class-action lawsuits alleging the company shared their data with Facebook without permission.

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