FTC Urged To Investigate Zoom Over Privacy

The advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center is renewing its call for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate popular video conferencing service Zoom over its privacy and security practices.

“Each day that passes presents a new report of a previously undisclosed problem with Zoom,” EPIC president Marc Rotenberg and policy director Caitriona Fitzgerald write in a letter sent Monday to the FTC.

The organization, which initially urged the FTC to investigate last year, cites several recent news reports of problematic practices at the company. Among others, the watchdog notes that Zoom allowed some users to access LinkedIn data about other meeting participants, without notifying them or obtaining their consent, according to a recent report in The New York Times.

EPIC adds that until late last week, employers could learn whether people had other apps open during Zoom meetings.

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“The need for strong safeguards is far greater today than when EPIC filed the original Zoom complaint last year,” EPIC writes, noting the surge in Zoom use due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The FTC should make clear its commitment to consumer privacy precisely because we are all more dependent on online services today than we were just a few weeks ago,” the letter states.

In addition to investigating Zoom, EPIC is asking the FTC to publish best practices for online conferencing.

EPIC isn't Zoom's only critic. Last week, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) blasted Zoom's “troubling history of software design practices and security lapses” in a letter to the company.

The company is also being sued for allegedly violating users' privacy by sending information about them to Facebook.

In New York, the state attorney general is investigating the company, and public schools in New York City have banned the use of Zoom.

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