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Taiwan Bans Zoom App for Gov’t Use after Company Routs Data through China

Zoom logo illustration, March 19, 2020 (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

On Tuesday, Taiwan banned government use of the Zoom videoconferencing app, following revelations that the company had routed some calls through Chinese networks.

“In response to the continuous development of the Wuhan Pneumonia (COVID-19) epidemic in China…various agencies may use remote videoconferencing systems to cooperate with off-site offices or district offices,” the government said in a statement, translated via Google. “If agencies must hold remote videoconferencing for business needs, they should not use products with security concerns such as Zoom.”

The statement added that “non-Chinese video software must be used” when conducting video conferences. “At present, all major international information service providers provide free software during the epidemic, such as Google or Microsoft. Under the security risk assessment, [they] can be considered for use,” it continued.

China does not consider Taiwan an independent country, which has driven simmering conflict between the two countries for decades. China regularly attempts to forbid international organizations from accepting Taiwan as a member, including the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Zoom, an American company based in San Jose, Calif., has seen use of the app soar during the coronavirus pandemic, as various businesses have transferred to remote operations. High usage has brought the app more scrutiny regarding possible security concerns, and on Friday, Zoom admitted that some calls had been “mistakenly” routed through China.

“During these periods of high traffic, Zoom’s systems are designed to maintain geo-fencing around China for both primary and secondary datacenters,” CEO Eric S. Yuan said in a statement. “However, in February, Zoom…mistakenly added our two Chinese datacenters to a lengthy whitelist of backup bridges, potentially enabling non-Chinese clients to — under extremely limited circumstances — connect to them.” Yuan said Zoom had rectified the error.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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