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Zoom responds to privacy concerns amid updated terms of service

Zoom responds to privacy concerns amid updated terms of service

Recently, Zoom announced updated terms of service designed to train AI, but their new policy is raising privacy concerns. 


What happened

CNBC recently released an article diving deeply into Zoom’s new terms of service, which became effective on July 27. While many of their updates revolve around software licensing and compliance, one of the changes is their use of AI. 

Zoom is now planning to train its AI with “service-generated data” taken from meetings. The terms, which any user must automatically accept, state, “You consent to Zoom’s access, use, collection, creation, modification, distribution, processing, sharing, maintenance, and storage of Service Generated Data for any purpose, to the extent and in the manner permitted under applicable Law, including for the purpose of…machine learning or artificial intelligence (including for the purposes of training and tuning of algorithms and models).”  

In a follow-up statement, the company stated, “For AI, we do not use audio, video, or chat content for training our models without customer consent.” 

Despite the clarity, the new terms have generated uproar among privacy advocates. 


What’s new

Now, Zoom has addressed privacy concerns in hopes of putting users at ease. 

As reported by NBC, a spokesperson stated, “Zoom customers decide whether to enable generative AI features, and separately whether to share customer content with Zoom for product improvement purposes.” The statement also reaffirmed that they will not use audio, video, or chat content without consent. 

Zoom also stated that meeting administrators will be able to opt out of sharing meeting data with Zoom. Non-administrator meeting members will be notified of the policy and given the option to accept the terms or leave the meeting. 

While the clarification has put some at ease, others say it is still a privacy violation. 


Why it matters

Zoom’s policy is part of a larger discussion on the use of data and content. Many AI models have come under fire for similarly adapting based on user-generated content, which some say could lead to copyright infringements. “I think that the fundamental issue is that we don’t have those protections in law as a society in place and in a kind of robust way, which means that people are being asked to react at the individual level. And so that is the real problem with terms of service,” said Janet Haven, the executive director of Data & Society. 

Some companies, such as Bellingcat, an open-source research publication, said they would no longer be using the platform. 

Others are calling attention to the probability that individuals will ignore the terms and unknowingly consent to their data being shared. Bogdana Rakova, a senior trustworthy AI fellow at the Mozilla Foundation, said, “These are documents that are intentionally written in a way that no sane human will spend their time looking at them.” She added, “It’s not clear when people are notified about changes, and this makes it very complex for consumers and puts the burden on consumers to single-handedly navigate this.”  

Related: ChatGPT account breaches raise privacy concerns in healthcare


The big picture

It appears that Zoom is doubling down on its new terms. As one of the top applications for video conferencing, many will likely continue to use the platform. 

As Haven said, policy surrounding data, especially as it relates to AI, is particularly scant, and lawmakers will have to determine what limits should exist for data collection. 

Related: HIPAA Compliant Email: The Definitive Guide

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