The popularity of free video conferencing platform Zoom has skyrocketed from 10 million users a day in December to 200 million per day in March. Of course, this is in light of the COVID-19 pandemic pushing a majority of the world to work from home as well as personal use for virtual happy hours and check-ins with friends and family outside the home.
Unfortunately, the increased popularity due to ease of use has spotlighted some privacy and security issues because users do not need to download software or create an account. This makes it easier for users to dive right in, but that ease also means that hackers can show up. This lapse has led one investor in the company to file a class action in the Northern District of California.
News of problems with the platform was not a secret. However, the dream of becoming a household brand name has turned to a nightmare because of the increased scrutiny and incidences, including hackers “Zoombombing” business meetings by publishing toxic imagery or even pornography. This led Zoom CEO Eric Yuan to make a public apology, saying, “we have fallen short of the community’s – and our own – privacy and security expectations.”
There have been other missteps as well for the company, including:
- Routing some calls through China to ease congestion on the platform
- Providing client information and web browser history
- Having a company policy that allows it to rent user data usage to third parties
A matter of trust
There is a certain amount of implied consent or risk whenever anyone surfs the internet, but customers generally trust (rightly or wrongly) that services and businesses used online are private and secure. Some users have switched to Slack, Microsoft Teams or some other platform, while others do not care if their information is out there. This, however, could change if they are victims of Zoombombing or some other virtual attack.
Investors and customers should expect Zoom and other services to be safe and not violate privacy rights. If this is not the case, it may be wise to speak with a business law attorney experienced in litigation. It is actions like these that can force businesses to change their policies, whether they want to or not. Conversely, attorneys can also help the companies to improve their policies to avoid embarrassing legal action that could affect the bottom line.