FTC Urged To Scrutinize Video Conferencing Platforms, Issue Guidance

Democratic Senator Ed Markey has joined a growing roster of people urging the Federal Trade Commission to address privacy and security risks posed by video conferencing.

“As Americans’ reliance on online conferencing grows, individuals are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks and inappropriate access of their personal data,” the Massachusetts lawmaker says in a letter sent to the FTC Wednesday.

He is asking the agency to investigate newly popular video conferencing platform Zoom, and also issue guidelines for the broader industry.

Markey refers in his letter to several highly publicized examples of glitches at Zoom. For instance, Markey references an April 3 Washington Post report that says thousands of private Zoom videos were exposed on the open web. The letter also notes Zoom's well-publicized problems with Zoombombing -- which occurs when hackers join video conferences.

While Zoom is drawing much attention, Markey says the entire video conferencing industry warrants scrutiny.

“It is clear that no platform is immune from risks,” he writes, adding that other services have previously had security flaws.

Earlier this week, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and the Electronic Information Privacy Center asked the FTC to investigate Zoom. EPIC also asked the agency to issue broader guidance for the industry.

Markey is urging the agency to issue guidelines on a host of related issues, including limits on data collection and recording, encryption and authentication requirements.

He also is urging the agency to develop best practices for users, including guidance about avoiding malware and securing meetings.

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