Zoom facing lawsuit over sharing of data with Facebook

1 Apr 2020

Image: © charnsitr/Stock.adobe.com

Video conferencing app Zoom is facing a lawsuit in the US, with claims the company failed to inform users about how their data was shared with Facebook.

With millions now working from home or wanting to simply connect with friends and family online, video conferencing app Zoom has seen a surge in downloads in recent weeks. However, according to Bloomberg, a recent lawsuit filed to a federal court in California has claimed that Zoom did not inform users of how the company shares data with Facebook.

Vice Motherboard recently published a report showing that when a user downloads the iOS version of Zoom, the app sends information to Facebook, including the model of the user’s device, location, phone network and a unique code that can identify the device.

While this is a common practice, a user’s explicit consent is needed within an app’s privacy policy. These details were not found in Zoom’s policy.

The lawsuit said Zoom’s “wholly inadequate program design and security measures have resulted, and will continue to result, in unauthorised disclosure of its users’ personal information”.

Number of concerns

While refusing to comment on the lawsuit, Zoom founder Eric Yuan in a blog post thanked Motherboard for bringing the oversight to his attention and said the company was removing the Facebook software development kit from its iOS client.

“We sincerely apologise for the concern this has caused and remain firmly committed to the protection of our users’ privacy,” Yuan said. “We are reviewing our process and protocols for implementing these features in the future to ensure this does not happen again.”

To stop data being sent to Facebook, Zoom said that all users are advised to update their iOS app to the latest version.

Meanwhile, according to the BBC, New York attorney general Letitia James wrote to Zoom asking whether the company has stringent security measures in place following a surge in demand.

Following the publication of a piece in The Intercept this week, Zoom has clarified that conversations on its platform are not protected by end-to-end encryption. This would allow Zoom to access video and audio of meetings.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic