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Zoom Founder Apologises for App's Elaborate Privacy Issues, Reveals Plans for Future

By: Shouvik Das

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Last Updated: April 09, 2020, 17:23 IST

Zoom Founder Apologises for App's Elaborate Privacy Issues, Reveals Plans for Future

Zoom never expected to be used by so many in such short notice, and was largely designed for use in IT organisations with robust cyber security protocols.

Zoom has become virally popular, ever since the coronavirus pandemic caused most individuals to work from home. However, with its popularity, a myriad security and privacy issues have also come to the fore, coercing the video conferencing app to scramble to make changes — including (but not limited to) a wholesome upgrade of its privacy policy and user disclosure of data collection practices. With many competitors now snapping at their heels, Zoom's founder and chief executive, Eric Yuan, has published a post "apologising" for the myriad and elaborate privacy gaffes with Zoom. Alongside this, Yuan has also offered an explanation behind the mess-ups, and announced ways in which it intends to fix the concerns.

Explaining the reason behind Zoom's privacy issues, Yuan clarifies that the service was built ground-up keeping the enterprise user in mind, whose cyber security protocol would largely be governed by the organisation they are associated with. While Yuan's carefully-worded explanation offers very little actual information and instead comes up with a feeble "I'm sorry" hiccup, the crux of the matter is that Zoom had never anticipated that it would suddenly be used by millions the way it is being used today. At the time of writing, Zoom sits pretty at the top of the Google Play download charts, even with the many security concerns about it.

Proceeding to talk about what he intends to do about the issues, Yuan begins by introducing tutorials and webinars to "educate" users about how to use Zoom. This can be helpful, since it may actually help users make use of certain settings that Zoom has introduced in a bid to stop 'zoombombing' — limiting screen sharing, muting controls and more features. Zoom has also claimed (and been validated) of removing the Facebook SDK for its iOS app, although exactly to what magnitude might Facebook have benefitted from all this remains to be seen. It has also updated its privacy policy at length, in turn also making it easier to read. About this, Yuan states, "We updated our privacy policy to be more clear and transparent around what data we collect and how it is used – explicitly clarifying that we do not sell our users’ data, we have never sold user data in the past, and have no intention of selling users’ data going forward."

Yuan has already had his company offer a prior apology about the confusions regarding the app's encryption standards. According to the clarification that he offers, "In a meeting where all of the participants are using Zoom clients, and the meeting is not being recorded, we encrypt all video, audio, screen sharing, and chat content at the sending client, and do not decrypt it at any point before it reaches the receiving clients."

In a bid to fix the issues on his platform, Yuan has announced a complete freeze of developing new features, creating a transparency report on the issues, enhancing the bug bounty programme, introducing white box presentations to further identify privacy issues, and also host weekly webinars to personally address privacy issues on the platform.