Zoom video conferencing is investigated due to privacy concerns

Zoom's video conferencing tools allow groups of people to interact and see each other with laptops, computers, or smartphones.

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Zoom’s video conferencing tools allow groups of people to interact and see each other with laptops, computers, or smartphones.

With a sharp increase in social distancing across the globe, more people are using digital services to replace in-person messages than ever before. However, the top video-chatting service, Zoom Video Communications, is under significant scrutiny for privacy and security issues. 

Warnings from the FBI have prompted New York schools and other large groups to stop using Zoom all together. Michael Drieu, a shareholder in Zoom, went as far as to sue the company for the unseen privacy issues.

Before the global pandemic, Zoom’s free video-conferencing services were highly respected and commonly used by many. No one saw any issues at the time, but with shelter-in-place measures, Zoom has seen an increase in user activity, which has caused some to realize the fatal problems of the platform. The FBI has had many issues and acts of misconduct on Zoom reported to them.

“In late March 2020, a Massachusetts-based high school reported that while a teacher was conducting an online class using the teleconferencing software Zoom, an unidentified individual(s) dialed into the classroom,” said the FBI in an official post. “This individual yelled a profanity and then shouted the teacher’s home address in the middle of instruction.”

Although an increase in business typically is positive, for Zoom it spells the increase of crimes on their platform. Unfortunately, the unwanted crime has led the company to lose the trust of some of its customers. On April 8, Google announced that it would no longer allow its employees to use Zoom’s desktop software on their computers.

“We have long had a policy of not allowing employees to use unapproved apps for work,” said Jose Castaneda, a spokesperson from Google, to The Verge. “Recently, our security team informed employees using Zoom Desktop Client that it will no longer run on corporate computers as it does not meet our security standards for apps used by our employees.”

The efforts made against Zoom seem to be quick and sudden, but Zoom’s response to the issues has been equally fast. The company has been quick to add new administrative features to the platform to allow schools and new companies to use their services safely. Zoom has even committed all their engineers only to improvements (not new features) for the next 90 days.

“Over the next 90 days, we are committed to dedicating the resources needed to better identify, address, and fix issues proactively,” said Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Communications. “We are also committed to being transparent throughout this process. We want to do what it takes to maintain your trust.”

As society shifts to rely more on technology, the issues technology may have become more prominent and impactful to the masses. As seen in the case of Zoom’s mishaps, the mistakes of technology can compromise data and promote crime. The move toward more technology should be taken gradually and with precautions, as the rapid adoption of Zoom prompted failures.

“We did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home,” Yuan said.

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