Privacy Issues of Zoom: A Discussion

Privacy Issues of Zoom: A Discussion

Zoom Cloud Meetings or Zoom has become one of the most popular videoconferencing platforms alongside Google Meet and Microsoft Teams since 2020 after business and non-business organizations have embraced telecommuting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, with hundreds of millions of users from around the globe, the privacy issues of Zoom have become more notable as an increasing number of people hooked in digital communication channels become more mindful about their personal data and information.

A Look into the Notable Privacy Issues of Zoom

1. Previous Privacy and Security Issues

The platform has had a rough time dealing with privacy and security controversies unearthed by security experts and tech reviewers. These included data sharing policies with third parties such as Facebook, vulnerabilities that enabled attackers to enter ongoing video meetings uninvited, unauthorized access to hardware components such as microphones and cameras, and lack of transparency and poor encryption practices, among others.

Zoom Video Communications have rolled out solutions and software updates to fix most of these issues. For example, it made numerous security stings as part of the default settings starting in April 2020. It also released 100 safety features and toils in July 2020. The company has been responsive to the reports published by security experts, as well as to the suggestions and clamor made by tech reviewers, consumers, and privacy rights advocacy groups.

2. Cloud Recording and Chat Transcripts

Paid users of this application have the option to record an online meeting and download the transcript of chat conversations that transpired throughout the meeting. The cloud storage that comes as an additional feature to paid plans automatically stores the recorded meeting and chat transcript. Of course, these features and tools provide notable advantages to include easier meeting documentation and playback for future reference.

However, there is one primary disadvantage. Both the records and transcripts could be accessed by anyone who has the authority to access a particular Zoom account. This means that individuals who may have never attended the meeting could watch the recorded meeting or read the chat transcripts. Some meeting participants might be uncomfortable with the thought that their meeting participation could be viewed and reviewed by non-participants.

3. Video Meeting Links Are Shareable

Setting up and hosting a Zoom meeting requires a user to either provide a unique meeting ID number along with the password or send out a link to meeting participants or invites. Using the meeting link is more convenient. Clicking on it automatically directs a participant to the virtual meeting. There is no need for them to enter a password. There is a downside to this: the link is easily shareable and accessible to anyone by default.

Anyone who has the link can enter and join the videoconference. And anyone who has the link can share it even to random individuals or uninvited ones. Of course, while the platform has an option for approving or rejecting participants who try to enter an ongoing virtual meeting, filtering out invited participants from non-invited ones could be problematic for larger virtual meetings. Note that the password can also be shared.

4. Unique Concerns Over Personal Privacy

Another one of the most critical privacy issues of Zoom centers on intrusiveness. Note that videoconferencing platforms share this unique privacy issue. Fundamentally, what this means is that whenever a participant joins an online meeting with his or her camera turned on, others would be able to see his or her personal space, particularly the interiors of his or her home. This could be problematic for individuals who want to protect their personal spaces.

But this issue is easier to resolve. Virtual meeting participants can opt to use a consistent neutral backdrop for their video conferencing activities. They would be using the same spot for each videoconference. Furthermore, if turning off their video cameras is not an option, it is important to note that Zoom has tools that allow users to hide their real or actual backgrounds either through a built-in blurring effect or by replacing them with virtual backgrounds.