Jim Jordan calls for a halt on using Zoom for House Oversight Committee business due to cybersecurity and China concerns

Published: Apr 10, 2020

Today Ranking Member Jim Jordan called on Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney to halt conducting Oversight Committee business over the popular teleconference platform “Zoom” in a letter citing concerns about cybersecurity as well as the China-based performance of many of the company’s operations.

Excerpts from the letter:

“While used by a number of groups for virtual work conferencing prior to the pandemic, Zoom has become a household name during the COVID-19 pandemic as users are hosting everything from workouts to virtual happy hours on its platform.”

“Unfortunately, such ubiquity has also exposed concerns with Zoom’s cybersecurity protocols. There have been many reports of “Zoom-bombing” that include video conferences being interrupted by hate speech and pornographic images. Zoom is also being used to distribute malware. These reports prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to issue a security warning to people using Zoom’s platform urging users to take specific precautions to secure their computers and networks.”

In addition to reports of hacking and malware, a large portion of Zoom’s research and development work is done by employees in China … Zoom has made a business decision to concentrate these operations in China because of cheaper labor costs compared to the United States.”

“[I]n spite of the warnings by the FBI and media outlets, on April 3, 2020, you held a Zoom-hosted Member briefing on women’s rights in Afghanistan with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).12 During this important briefing, the session was ‘Zoom-bombed’ at least three times. The impact of hacking and malware on Member and staff devices is still being determined.”

“Given the concerns surrounding Zoom’s security, it is clear Zoom is not an appropriate platform for Committee business, which may be particularly sensitive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please immediately suspend any current or future use of Zoom systems for official committee activities and take immediate steps to evaluate the Committee’s internal cybersecurity preparedness to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive committee information through the Zoom platform.”

Read the full text of the letter here.

Background:

The lack of cybersecurity controls at Zoom has led the Senate Sergeant at Arms to not use Zoom or any other video conferencing technology outside Senate-supported technologies.

Zoom has stated “[i]f we had to relocate our product development team from China to another jurisdiction, we could experience, among other things, higher operating expenses, which would adversely impact our operating margins and harm our business.”

Zoom’s CEO has admitted to “mistakenly” routing some calls through China.

House Oversight Republicans have recently requested more information regarding China’s propaganda efforts in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as well as the World Health Organization’s role in those efforts.