Following on from numerous schools across America implementing bans on the use of Zoom, the government of Taiwan is forbidding agencies from using the video conferencing service because of concerns about security.

The Taiwanese government issued a directive today ordering agencies to “step up video conferencing security”. The order states that should video conferencing be necessary, the software used should not have “security or privacy concerns”. Zoom is singled out as a tool that is unsuitable.

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The government of Taiwan would like agencies to turn to home-grown video conferencing solutions, but concedes that solutions from the likes of Google and Microsoft could also be used. While Taiwan is far from the first country to take exception to Zoom, today’s advisory is the most far-reaching to be issued by any government so far.

Noting that many businesses are now reliant on video conferencing software because of the coronavirus pandemic, Taiwan’s Executive Yuan said that organizations “should not utilize goods or services that raise data security concerns”.

The full text of the order reads:

Vice Premier and leader of the Executive Yuan’s overall cyber security mission Chen Chi-mai on Tuesday said that Taiwan enacted its Cyber Security Management Act in 2019 with the goal of implementing information and data security measures, as well as defending the nation’s critical communications infrastructure. The act stipulates that all organizations introducing information and communication systems should not utilize goods or services that raise data security concerns. In addition, procurement priority should focus on domestically produced goods and services, or those from government-contracted suppliers.

In response to changing developments surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, many organizations have the option to use remote video conferencing technology to coordinate with separate or distant offices as a means of minimizing business disruptions. The Executive Yuan’s Department of Cyber Security (DCS) today formally issued an advisory to all government organizations and specific non-government agencies that should it become operationally necessary to engage in video conferencing, the underlying video software to be used should not have associated security or privacy concerns, such as the Zoom video communication service.

The DCS went on to point out alternative solutions for remote conferencing needs. If the organization must use non-domestically produced software for international exchanges or some other special situation, many global information and communications giants — like Google and Microsoft — are offering such technology for free amid the current pandemic. Organizations should certainly consider these options after evaluating any associated data security risks.

Image credit: Andy.LIU / Shutterstock


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