A former Zoom security executive in China was charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday for alleged censorship of Chinese dissidents.
Xinjiang “Julien” Jin, 39, worked for a California-based telecommunications company as a liaison for law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the People’s Republic of China, the FBI alleged in a criminal complaint unsealed in a federal court in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, according to a press release.
Prosecutors did not immediately identify his employer, but Zoom confirmed Friday to The Washington Post that Jin worked for the telecommunications giant before he was fired for violating company policies. A spokesperson for Zoom added that the company was compliant and cooperative with the federal investigation, launching its own probe into the company.
Former executive Jin monitored Zoom’s video system for discussions related to political and religious topics considered to be unacceptable by China’s Communist Party, the federal complaint alleges.
He allegedly offered Chinese government officials names, email addresses and other personal information of users on the platform, even users outside China.
Additionally, the charges accuse Jin of ending at least four video call meetings in May and June for U.S.-based dissidents who survived the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square.
The Chinese government has historically attempted to block or censor any acknowledgment of the massacre online and on social media. Still, Zoom is an American-based company headquartered in San Jose, Calif.
Zoom released an updated statement on its webpage saying the company “fell short” by ending the calls pertaining to Tiananmen Square rather than only blocking access to participants in China in order to abide by the country’s laws.
A spokesperson for the company told the Post that Jin shared “a limited amount of individual user data with Chinese authorities” and additional information on at most 10 users based outside China.
“As the DOJ makes clear, every American company, including Zoom and our industry peers, faces challenges when doing business in China,” the company said in its statement. “We will continue to act aggressively to anticipate and combat ever-evolving data security challenges.”
Jin currently lives in China and is not in custody. Officials say he could be sent to the U.S. to face prosecution if he travels to a country with an extradition treaty with the United States.