The Platform


Zoom is great only if you’re willing to accept that your data is being sold and it’s not a secure service.

Zoom has seen a meteoric rise in popularity. It is an online chat service and has experienced ballooning user numbers during the pandemic. The numbers went from 10 million last year to 200 million in March 2020.

Zoom has also been used in both the UK and India for cabinet meetings. It is known for its convenience to use and is called “frictionless” in the technological jargon. The elderly, children or any other person with the least technological know-how can use it easily. People are using it to stay connected with their relatives, hold meetings, or have virtual parties.

With all the attention that Zoom has received, it has become a victim of its success. The issues that have been raised by various activists and the incidents that have taken place on the service are concerning.

There have been reports regarding the display of people’s LinkedIn data without their consent and the sale of user data to Facebook. Furthermore, the best security practices like passwords and locking the users’ screens have not been made default. Therefore, there have been many instances of “Zoombombing” (where pranksters join the video and partake in racist or defamatory activities).

Before starting a meeting, the Zoom call does generate a meeting ID that has around 9 digits but the problem with the same is that people are easily able to guess the same which ultimately leads to “Zoombombing” but in another one of their security updates, they have tried to address the concern.

Another major problem with Zoom is the fact that the website claims that there is end-to-end encryption on their service but the company has now accepted that it is misleading people. It is not possible to enable end-to-end encryption on the service. It only uses transport encryption which means that other people will not get access to your data but Zoom can.

After facing severe backlash, Zoom’s chief executive, Eric Yuan, even apologized for Zoom’s weak security practices. Zoom also apologized for selling user information en masse to Facebook. The information of users who do not use Facebook has also been transferred to them.

Amid such concerns, Google has banned Zoom for its employees and Taiwan has also banned the service. Furthermore, after many Zoombombing incidents during online classes, Singapore has banned Zoom for teachers after some mischief-mongers displayed obscene images in a lecture meant for school-going children.

New York State’s attorney general has also started an investigation into Zoom asking it to improve upon its security measures. Moreover, the FBI has also warned Americans that the service is susceptible to digital hijacking.

Zoom is now facing many lawsuits which allege that the company is now disclosing illegal information to third parties. A shareholder has also filed a lawsuit regarding the same. Their privacy policy also does not talk about sharing information with third parties. This is explicitly stated in the policies of major other companies like Apple and Cisco.

Many academicians and professors have also raised their reservations regarding Zoom. They have pointed out the fact that in classroom learning they can easily put forth their ideas since they are not being recorded. But while taking such online classes, everything they say is being recorded and people might easily use that against them.

This concern is important especially in the context of Zoom because the intermediary, i.e., the service has access to all the information being shared. All that is being (mistakenly) routed through China and considering their weak privacy practices there is a major cause for concern. Although, now with a new update, paid users can opt for a data centre region.

Zoom needs to beef up its security measures to make it safer for the general public. Although it has taken some steps like changing the default settings for Zoom meetings held for educational purposes. Until then, you should use Zoom with caution or try other services like Google’s Hangouts or Cisco’s Webex. But it should always be kept in mind that if something is convenient to use or there is no other option available in the market, that does not mean that they have the right to exploit the user information available.

Amrashaa Singh is a third year student at National Law University Odisha, India. Amrashaa's interests include human rights and media laws.