Not worried about Zoom?  We think you should be. Here’s why.

K-12 schools, universities and businesses across the nation are using an online app called Zoom for video meetings to help facilitate connections while working/learning remote.

Every day, new information is coming out regarding the privacy concerns of this well-known app. Below is a compilation of the issues we have come across that we think everyone should be aware of (in no particular order).

  • Using Zoom? Here are the privacy issues you need to be aware of
    by Richie Koch, March 20, 2020
    “Zoom allows your boss to track your attention during calls, shares the copious amounts of data it collects with third parties, and has already had a major security vulnerability.”
  • Zoom is a work-from-home privacy disaster waiting to happen
    By Jack Morse, March 13, 2020
    “In other words, even if you can make the argument that Zoom isn’t selling customers’ personal data — an argument which, to be clear, Zoom is making — the company still admits it shares some of your data with third parties and that privacy sticklers might argue that such activity counts as selling.”
  • Yeah, that Zoom app you’re trusting with work chatter? It lives with ‘vampires feeding on the blood of human data’
    By Shaun Nichols, March 27, 2020
    “Doc Searls, co-author of the influential internet marketing book The Cluetrain Manifesto last century, today warned [cached] Zoom not only has the right to extract data from its users and their meetings, it can work with Google and other ad networks to turn this personal information into targeted ads that follow them across the web…….This personal info includes, and is not limited to, names, addresses and any other identifying data, job titles and employers, Facebook profiles, and device specifications. Crucially, it also includes “the content contained in cloud recordings, and instant messages, files, whiteboards … shared while using the service.”
    “What makes this extra creepy is that Zoom is in a position to gather plenty of personal data, some of it very intimate (for example with a shrink talking to a patient) without anyone in the conversation knowing about it. (Unless, of course, they see an ad somewhere that looks like it was informed by a private conversation on Zoom.)”
  •  The surveillance profiteers of COVID-19 are here
    by Violet Blue, March 27, 2020
    “Zoom happens to be a privacy nightmare with a terrible security track record — so bad that in late 2019, EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) made an official complaint to the FTC alleging “unfair and deceptive practices.” According to EPIC, “Zoom intentionally designed its web conferencing service to bypass browser security settings and remotely enable a user’s web camera without the knowledge or consent of the user.”That’s not all: Zoom collects “your physical address, phone number, your job title, credit and debit card information, your Facebook account, your IP address, your OS and device details, and more” … and traffics that data with whomever it’s doing business with (it’s unclear where or how Zoom sntaches that info, except to say it’s “when you use or otherwise interact with our Products”).”
  • New York Attorney General Looks Into Zoom’s Privacy Practices
    By Danny Hakim and Natasha Singer, March 30, 2020
    “While the letter referred to Zoom as “an essential and valuable communications platform,” it outlined several concerns, noting that the company had been slow to address security flaws such as vulnerabilities “that could enable malicious third parties to, among other things, gain surreptitious access to consumer webcams.””Over the last few weeks, internet trolls have exploited a Zoom screen-sharing feature to hijack meetings and do things like interrupt educational sessions or post white supremacist messages to a webinar on anti-Semitism — a phenomenon called “Zoombombing.”
  • Zoom is Leaking Peoples’ Email Addresses and Photos to Strangers
    By Joseph Cox, Apr 1 2020
    “Last week, Zoom updated the iOS version of its app after Motherboard found it was sending analytics data to Facebook. On Monday a user filed a class action lawsuit against Zoom for the data transfer. On the same day the New York Attorney General sent a letter to Zoom asking what security measures the company had put in place as the app has sky-rocketed in popularity.”
  • Zoom Sued for Allegedly Illegally Disclosing Personal Data
    By Joel Rosenblatt, March 30, 2020
    “According to the suit, Zoom’s privacy policy doesn’t explain to users that its app contains code that discloses information to Facebook and potentially other third parties…….The company’s “wholly inadequate program design and security measures have resulted, and will continue to result, in unauthorized disclosure of its users’ personal information,” according to the complaint.”
    You will find two interesting videos in this link – Titles below:
    “Company shares information with Facebook, lawsuit says”
    “Video-conferencing company’s shares have soared with usage”
    BY AILA SLISCO, 3/30/20
    “The FBI has warned the public of the potential for “Zoom-bombing,” after two schools saw their online classes get hijacked on the popular video conferencing app Zoom.”
  • Maybe we shouldn’t use Zoom after all
    Zack Whittaker, March 31, 2020
    “Zoom’s recent popularity has also shone a spotlight on the company’s security protections and privacy promises. Just today, The Intercept reported that Zoom video calls are not end-to-end encrypted, despite the company’s claims that they are.” …
    ..” Zoom was quietly sending data to Facebook about a user’s Zoom habits — even when the user does not have a Facebook account. Motherboard reported that the iOS app was notifying Facebook when they opened the app, the device model, which phone carrier they opened the app, and more. Zoom removed the code in response, but not fast enough to prevent a class action lawsuit or New York’s attorney general from launching an investigation.Zoom came under fire again for its “attendee tracking” feature, which, when enabled, lets a host check if participants are clicking away from the main Zoom window during a call.”
  • I-TEAM: Hacker gained access to CSRA middle school Zoom chat and showed porn to students
    By Liz Owens, March 30, 2020
    “Zoom and other online tools have made both jobs easier, but as 7th-grade students at Kennedy Middle School found out, it comes with a risk.”Zoombombing” can expose children to the dark side of the internet.
    Aiken County mother Susan Jasani thought caring and educating her five kids during the age of social distancing would be chaotic, but not scaring like it was Friday for her oldest son, Max.
    “He’s sitting at the dining room table, and I’m coming out of the bedroom with a baby in my arms and all of a sudden he just kind of looked up at me and screamed and jumped up from the table, and I think he was in shock and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know,’ and ran up to his room,” Jasani said.
    By the time Jasani got to the computer, the images were gone. For Max, the damage was done.”
  • The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy has graciously put out a helpful tool for educators and parents as described in their blog entitled ADVICE TO PARENTS ON MAXIMIZING PRIVACY & MINIMIZING SCREEN TIME WHILE YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL IS CLOSED
    “Many ed tech programs are neither private nor secure; they collect and share children’s personal data, often without your knowledge or consent. This 2018 US Dept of Ed guidance has said that schools cannot require parents to agree to the terms of online apps or programs if they violate federal privacy law. Ransomware, hacking, and identity theft also increase when using online programs, as the FBI has warned.”
    “Many schools and colleges are using Zoom. Be aware that EPIC filed a privacy complaint against Zoom for intentionally allowing web cameras to be operated without users’ knowledge or consent. You might consider keeping a band aid or other removable sticker on your computer’s web camera until you or your child intends to use it. Its standard privacy policy, according to Future of Privacy Forum, allows targeted advertising, which violates FERPA and many state student privacy laws.”

We know there are probably hundreds more articles just like these.  We also know there are risks with any video conferencing app.  We recommend that parents do their due diligence and ask the tough questions of their school districts about how they will guarantee their child’s privacy while using this app.  It’s important to know the privacy policies with any digital app your child signs into.  We urge you to read the terms of service as well.  This is a crucial time, as we know there is a very dark side to the internet that hackers will use to take advantage of our kids and exploit them.   If school districts will not protect our children, we as parents need to do our own research to protect our kids from harm.


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