UPDATE: This policy has been reversed.
Zoom recently updated their Terms and Conditions requiring users to allow their collected data to be used by Zoom – for any purpose permitted “under applicable Law” in machine learning or training AI.
The newly updated terms, specifically in section 10.2, stood out for its invasive tendencies towards user privacy. Once signed up, users “unconditionally and irrevocably” permit Zoom to utilize their data.
Under section 10.2 Service Generated Data; Consent to Use., users consent to Zoom’s access, use, collection, creation, modification, distribution, processing, sharing, maintenance, and storage of the ‘Service Generated Data’ – these are the data generated from the users’ utilization of Zoom’s services and software.
This includes Zoom’s efforts to compile ‘Service Generated Data’ based on the Customer Content and the use of its services and software.
(Customer Content is the users’ uploaded data, content, files, documents and other materials in accessing the Services of Zoom)
Relatedly, section 10.3 ‘Permitted Use; Customer Content’ discussed Zoom’s permitted use of the users’ data stating that they may “redistribute, publish, import, access, use, store, transmit, review, disclose, preserve, extract, modify, reproduce, share, use, display, copy, distribute, translate, transcribe, create derivative works, and process Customer Content”.
This means that Zoom has the permission to use Service Generated Data from their users and use it accordingly.
With these privacy-provoking conditions, online users in various social media platforms were alarmed as the terms explicitly mentioned the right to use their data, not only for machine learning and AI, but also for “training and tuning” of algorithms and models.
Consequently, users aired out their concerns on the recent update;
In a post from LinkedIn, Greg Wilson, a Senior Software Engineering Manager at Deep Genomics voiced his concerns saying that there are no opt-outs based on the updated terms and conditions, especially for paid customers and professionals that discuss confidential information using Zoom.
After knowing about the change, he emphasized that he just canceled his subscription after six years and he recommends users and employers to cancel until “Zoom backs down”.
In response to his post, Aparna Bawa, Chief Operating Officer of Zoom replied saying that the intention behind clause 10.2 is to provide transparency on how they utilize the data about their customers’ use of service so that they would be able to “make the user experience better.”
“With respect to customer content and generative AI, that is a totally different ball game. For generative AI features the customer decides whether to 1. Enable these AI features and 2. separately share their customer content with Zoom to help us improve our product,” Aparna Bawa replied to the post.
She also clarified that everything is opt-in and Zoom participants are notified that these features are enabled.
Zoom continues to justify these new conditions as a way to improve their services for the users welfare. However, this poses a threat to data privacy as risks of data breach may occur. The debate around digital data privacy arises as AI and machine learning systems are also involved.