Zoom CEO owns up to privacy concerns

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How to use Zoom videoconferencing.
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The coronavirus pandemic has led to a wild ride for Zoom. It started out as a videoconference platform for professionals working from a distance. Now, Zoom has become an essential tool for millions of people quarantined around the world, a meme, and the center of a huge privacy discussion.

As its number of users has spiked in the past few months, Zoom has struggled to keep its platform safe. Although the company has taken measures to address some of the security concerns it hadn’t actually owned up to the problem. Now, Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, has taken responsibility for the issues.

Stepping Up

The importance of tools like Zoom at a time where people are forced to stay inside cannot be understated. However, privacy and security are still crucially important. With more people online, Zoom has quickly become a hotbed for mischief-makers and cybercriminals alike.

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In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Yuan said, “We moved too fast… and we had some missteps. We’ve learned our lessons and we’ve taken a step back to focus on privacy and security.”

It isn’t surprising that these issues have cropped up recently. In an April 1 blog post, Zoom noted that it has surpassed 200 million daily meeting participants. That number was just 10 million in December.

No company would rationally expect to scale up so quickly or dramatically. However, Zoom was thrust into a difficult position by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the early days, it looked as if Zoom was invincible. The platform handled the surge of users without suffering from performance issues. Moreover, its CEO began offering free Zoom access to K-12 schools around the world to help facilitate online learning.

Unfortunately, things went downhill.

Addressing Several Issues

One of the biggest issues that Zoom is facing is a troubling trend known as Zoom-bombing. Uninvited guests are joining meetings and proceeding to disrupt them in various ways. The issue has become so widespread that the FBI released an official guide on how to prevent Zoom-bombing.

Meanwhile, Zoom was found guilty of sharing “unnecessary device information” with Facebook. Of course, the latter has its own array of privacy concerns. For Zoom, being tied to Facebook in such a shady way has led to nothing but trouble. The company now faces a class-action lawsuit for not informing users about the data-sharing policy.

Although, as Yuan says, Zoom has had its missteps, it appears that the company is working hard to correct them. It is working even harder to regain the trust of the public.

Zoom recently announced that it is temporarily halting new feature updates for 90 days to focus on fixing its existing problems. Given its newly expanded scope and user base, that’s a good thing. The three-month window will give it time to catch up from its massive surge and keep the platform operating safely.

Even so, it may be too late to repair the damage done by the privacy concerns. Several school districts, including those in New York City, are banning the videoconference platform. Instead, these districts are turning to rival platforms like Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom.

In response, Yuan said, “We are still in the process of working together with them [the NYC school system]. We want Zoom to be a privacy- and security-first company.”

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