Released: December 18, 2020
We are pleased to offer our first transparency report, which we intend to publish semiannually beginning in 2021. This report is designed to offer insight into how Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (Zoom) responds to requests for user data from law enforcement agencies and government authorities. Zoom believes that transparency is critical to building trust and fostering the free and open exchange of ideas.
As detailed in our Privacy Statement, Zoom is committed to protecting user privacy and only produces user data to governments in response to valid and lawful requests in accordance with our Government Requests Guide and relevant legal policies.
This report covers government requests that we processed between May 1, 2020 and December 12, 2020. Until spring 2020, when our user base expanded significantly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Zoom had no set approach to these law enforcement requests. Like many smaller technology companies without a significant consumer user base, we received requests via multiple avenues, handled each one in a high-touch, intensive way, and didn’t preserve categorizing information about them. As our usage soared following the beginning of the pandemic that approach became untenable. After a period of ramping up and resourcing, we developed a more streamlined approach to handle the volume. Our first improvements included hiring experienced legal staff to evaluate and process requests efficiently, publishing our Government Requests Guide to enable law enforcement agencies and government authorities to submit more tailored requests, and categorizing the data associated with each request in our case management system. We’ve also standardized our policies, centralized how we track requests, and established internal guidelines and quality controls processes. All of these improvements were made with an eye towards transparency reporting.
Because many of the procedures that Zoom now uses to confirm the receipt of government requests were implemented on or about July 1, 2020, our ability to accurately identify government requests has significantly improved since that date. This means that we cannot guarantee that our May and June 2020 records are fully accurate. Nevertheless, the Report discloses the requests we processed from May 1, 2020 through December 12, 2020 of which we are currently aware, and, while we now have additional processes in place for handling and tracking these types of requests, it remains possible that we received additional requests during this period that were not properly tracked or otherwise identified by us in the preparation of this report.
Two further notes about this transparency report: In May and June of this year, there were meetings in remembrance of Tiananmen Square. Zoom received several requests from Chinese government authorities in the days of and leading up to these meetings, some of which resulted in our termination of specific meetings. Those requests are reflected in this report.
As described in our blog post published on December 18, 2020, we terminated a China-based employee who was responsible for responding to Chinese government requests because this individual violated Zoom’s policies by, among other things, attempting to circumvent certain internal access controls, including those required to manage government requests as described in this report.
The United States DOJ has charged this former employee with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to transfer a means of identification in connection with an alleged scheme to disrupt video meetings commemorating Tiananmen Square. We are cooperating with the DOJ in these investigations, which are ongoing, and we do not know when they will be completed. As a result, the outcome of these investigations will be informed by the discovery of additional facts that are an inherent part of any ongoing investigation. The discovery of additional facts from our own investigation or from evidence presented by the DOJ or the SEC could impact the information that is contained in this report. We will not update the transparency report for this reporting period other than as required by law.