Zoom investigated by New York attorney general


Photo courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

Zoom videoconferences have become a core part of some businesses and school districts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the company is under investigation for security concerns.

Tanya Hudy, Writer

Schools around the United States are taking part in online school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools use programs such as Zoom, where teachers have a platform to video chat with students. The app allows teachers to host meetings, deliver lectures, and screen share. Lately, the videoconferencing app has received some safety concerns from the office of New York’s attorney general, Letitia James.

Zoom received a letter from the office asking what security measures have been put in place to handle the enormous traffic of people and potential hackers. The office also noted that Zoom had been slow addressing these security flaws, such as hackers taking over webcams.

“Knowing that Zoom has been having privacy issues, it makes it a little hard to be comfortable and stay focused on our schoolwork,” junior Nataly Garcia said. “So far, my experience has been fine using Zoom; the only problem that I see is that some teachers are forcing us to show our camera and show us in the comfort of our home, which I believe is wrong, especially when knowing there could be hackers watching.”

Over these last few weeks that schools have joined Zoom, internet trolls have exploited the screensharing option as a way to hack into meetings, interrupt sessions, and post inappropriate messages and images. The attorney general’s office is pushing Zoom to know if they have “undertaken a broader review of its security practices.”

The company has been struggling to address data privacy and security issues since the app’s popularity has grown. This has led to complaints from users, as well as privacy and children’s groups. Last week, the news site Motherboard had reported that the software inside the app was sending user data to Facebook. Zoom said that it would be removing the tracking software. After these complaints, Zoom had updated its privacy policy on April 5.

“Since my dad is a teacher here, he has experienced some problems with privacy in his classroom,” sophomore Christina Brink said. “On the first day of using it, he had a random kid join his class and start yelling.”

The company released a statement saying that they took “its users’ privacy, security and trust extremely seriously,” and has been “working around the clock to ensure that hospitals, universities, schools and other businesses across the world can stay connected and operational.” They concluded with saying they “appreciate the New York attorney general’s engagement on these issues and are happy to provide her with the requested information.”

The office also expressed that the app may be avoiding statements on protecting student data. In response, Zoom recently expanded the meeting limits on free accounts. The app has taken some measures to secure their app for schools to have a better meeting experience, but the attorney general’s office still has some concerns for the app.

Students’ safety is EPISD’s number one concern. Keeping that in mind, students and teacher were no longer allowed to use Zoom as a platform for class as of April 7.