Zoom fails to inform users of possible data sharing with Facebook, tech expert says

Stephanie Sierra Image
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
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A federal lawsuit filed against tech-giant Zoom Monday night alleging a breach of privacy is starting to raise serious questions among its users.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A federal lawsuit filed against tech-giant Zoom Monday night alleging a breach of privacy is starting to raise serious questions among its users.

The video conference app has become a necessity for nearly everyone to communicate and conduct business during the COVID-19 crisis, but recent allegations stemming from the suit have heightened fears about security.

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The suit comes after a report released last week accusing the company of sending analytics data to Facebook. According to Shara Tibken, a senior reporter with CNET News, that information should have been made clear in the company privacy policy.

"The issue with what Zoom did is they didn't actually tell users they were sending anything to Facebook, that is king of a huge no no," Tibken said after pointing out the company does have missing information in its privacy policy.

"Zoom its user agreement talks about sending information to advertisers or third-party partners like Google, it doesn't specifically mention Facebook."

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Following the report, Zoom was quick to issue an apology to users admitting the information being collected was not necessary to provide their services.

The company CEO Eric Yuan issued a statement saying:

"Zoom takes its users' privacy, security, and trust extremely seriously. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working around-the-clock to ensure that hospitals, universities, schools, and other businesses across the world can stay connected and operational."

Yuan also spoke to ABC7's Kristen Sze last week stressing the importance of properly using privacy settings.

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"You have to set up a meeting password and protect your meeting ID, don't let other people know that," said Yuan.

On Friday, Zoom announced the issue was fixed after making changes to the app and encouraged users to update to the latest version of iOS.

But, the person filing the suit is still claiming damages for anyone using the app prior to the update.

So what kind of information was likely shared? Tibken explains it's not personally identifiable information.

"It's mainly location data, it's going to tell Facebook what kind of phone you're using, where you're loggin on, and the specifics of how you're using the app," said Tibken.

Tibken said the bottom line is prior to the recent iOS update information like your name or specific personal details revealing your identity were not released.