Zoom faces user privacy scandal


Josh Harrington

Zoom prompt before online class.

Zoom, the company responsible for the video conferencing program used by both professionals working from home and students who use the tool for distance learning in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, has just been sued in New York District Court in Manhattan for violating privacy laws concerning user information. 

Zoom is alleged to have sold off personal data from their users whenever they log on to a video conference. Zoom sold this data to the tech giant Facebook, who used the data to generate targeted advertisements towards these users. There is no opt-out to the collection and sale of your information, and it is done without so much as an acknowledgment.

In an interview with Vice Media, CEO of Zoom Communications Eric Yuan stated that “Our customers’ privacy is incredibly important to us, and therefore we decided to remove the Facebook SDK in our [Apple-based] client and have reconfigured the feature so that users will still be able to log in with Facebook via their browser.”

This is troublesome on many fronts. While the information collected did not include information about the users themselves, and just information about the device they were using to log onto Zoom, this was done with absolutely no input from the end user, who remains blissfully unaware of this practice.

Advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry, and Zoom is not the first nor will they be the last company to be caught selling user data to companies for use in targeted advertising. Going forward, consumers should be given an opportunity to opt out completely from the collection of their data and prevent this from happening again.