On using Zoom

So I have been one of those new customers of Zoom, the videoconferencing software everyone is now raging about because of its crappy relationship with customer privacy. Doc Searls did an excellent write up on this case in four parts (so far). The global outrage from their new customers whipped Zoom into action to update their privacy policy and remove aggressive tracking from their iOS client. For a company that exploded overnight, I applaud them for their efforts.

Despite their efforts, they have lost my confidence. I literally feel dirty when using it. Today I tried calling a friend and of all the tools I have available to set up a video meeting, I tried Zoom last. I went from an enthusiast to a reluctant user within a week. That said, so far every meeting I set up using Zoom worked.

What puzzles me is why a company that has a built in business model (subscriptions) implements surveillance techniques at all. To me this signals a shift (perhaps one that has been going for a long time) in deliberately mining data from users to sell to undisclosed clients, towards barely being aware of mining data because it became the default. That is freaky.

Evelyn Austin, director of Bits of Freedom, made a plea (in Dutch) to Dutch authorities to look into all these app makers that now are willing to share streams of user data they gathered illegally and fine them big time. I couldn’t agree more with her.

As for Zoom, I sincerely hope they deliver on their promise to take the privacy of their users seriously. Their service works and is affordable (even for a company of one). It will take a lot of effort to regain my trust. In the mean time the Man and I are exploring different ways to use Jitsi instead.