Zoom CEO responds: What happens next for hit video calling app

Chris Davies - Apr 2, 2020, 7:51am CDT
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Zoom CEO responds: What happens next for hit video calling app

Zoom may have seen explosive growth during the coronavirus pandemic, but the video conferencing service has also run into its fair share of controversy, as “Zoombombing” hijacks and questionable security and privacy decisions surface amid millions of new users. Now, Zoom founder and CEO Eric S. Yuan has responded to the criticism, setting out just what the unexpected hit app plans to do to fix it.

It’s fair to say that, until recently, Zoom was hardly a household name. One of a number of video conferencing services, it was primarily known among enterprise users; with the arrival of self-isolation, quarantine, and a huge uptick in people working from home, though, Zoom has become the new byword for video calls.

More than 200 million daily meeting participants were using the service in March, Yuan says, across the company’s free and paid tiers. That’s up exponentially from the 10 million daily back in December. With it, though, have come a fair number of problems.

“Zoombombing,” where uninvited participants gatecrash Zoom calls – often by guessing the meeting ID of unsecured conferences – has proliferated, sometimes seeing hate speech and explicit content being shared. Zoom’s use of the Facebook SDK for consumer login in the iOS app, too, was criticized for the amount of data it gathered. Those who took the time to read the Zoom privacy policy weren’t entirely impressed with what they saw either, with the company rewriting it to make clearer what, exactly, is gathered and what happens to it.

Still, there’s room for improvement all the same, and that’s what Yuan says Zoom is focusing on now. After removing the controversial attendee attention tracker feature – which could allow managers to monitor whether participants were doing other things rather than watching the video call – Zoom is putting new features on hold.

This will be “effectively immediately,” Yuan says, and see Zoom shift “all our engineering resources to focus on our biggest trust, safety, and privacy issues.” It will be preparing a transparency report, and holding “a comprehensive review with third-party experts and representative users to understand and ensure the security of all of our new consumer use cases.”

In addition, Zoom will build out its current bug bounty program. That offers payments for security researchers who identify vulnerabilities in the software and service, though also involves a non-disclosure agreement for participants. Zoom uses third-party bug bounty service HackerOne to manage the program.

For the moment, there are some easy steps to take to avoid things like Zoombombing, such as setting passwords to your new video calls when you set them up.


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