Does Zoom Video Conferencing App Violate Right to Privacy?

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This article has been written by Lakshay Bansal, a student of the Geeta Institute of Law.

Introduction

 The current condition of the world, millions of institutions are now restricted to work from home because of this they are now dependant on various video-conferencing apps to complete their work. Recently Zoom’s software has emerged as a lifeline for all those who are restricted to work from home. Due to its simplistic user interface and interesting host features, it slowly gained popularity and currently, it has reached 300 Million daily users. But on the other hand with its easy use, it was dangerously exposed to hacking, and because of the security and privacy problems, some organizations shifted to other platforms. The right to privacy is an essential component of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21. Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence or to attack upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”The national cybersecurity agency has cautioned against the cyber vulnerability of the popular video conferencing app ‘Zoom’, used by tens of thousands of professionals. Security experts around the world have described the zoom as a privacy disaster and because of this various cases have been filed against the company.

Zoom Video Conferencing App violate Right to Privacy in the light of which various petitions is filed in the Supreme Court which includes these p

  • PIL filed in Supreme Court against the use of Foreign Apps: Former RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya has moved a PIL to Supreme Court regarding the high-security risk of the apps used by the judiciary and the government for video-conferencing. He said that transferring the judicial and government data is a threat to the security of a nation. He also claimed that most of the video-conferencing software such as Zoom, Skype are foreign-based and they have a policy of transporting data outside the country and which can be exploited and violates the right to privacy of the people.
  • The suit filed against the company: Various suits filed against the company for sharing their information and also for the invasion in their privacy are as follows:
  • Loevy & Loevy on behalf of Zoom user filed a lawsuit against [1] the company for unlawfully sharing users’ personal information. Along with it, various consumer suits are also being filed for allegedly sharing an identifier profile with Facebook that give marketer’s insight into demographics and preferences.
  • Hurwitz’s lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles federal court on the grounds of invasion of privacy, unfair business practice and trespass to owners computers and mobile devices
  • A lawsuit is also been filed by a shareholder Michael Drieu in San Francisco federal court.
  • Ban of its use by various countries and institution: Along with the rapid growth of the company various security flaws were also found because of which several institutions switched to other platforms such as:   

Countries like Taiwan and Germany have also blocked the use of the Zoom app. Taiwan has completely banned the use of zoom because of privacy concerns. Some organizations and leading companies such as NASA, SpaceX, and Google are not allowing their employees to use this platform.

Various schools of Chandigarh, Panchkula, Mohali, and Kolkata have stopped using the zoom app and have shifted to other platforms to provide online classes to the students. Not only Indian states but the schools of various countries such as Singapore, California Berkeley High School has also decided to suspend the use of the Zoom app raising safety and privacy concerns of the students. Very serious incidents were reported by the schools of Singapore where obscene images were appearing on screens.

There are various guidelines which are directed by the various authority regarding the issue. Guidelines framed by NCPR and Home Ministry for its use: Due to this, the doubts have been raised over the use of zoom app, National Commission for the protection of Child Right (NCPR) issues some guidelines to schools for the safety of the children and to protect their identity of the students. The Home Ministry has issued an advisory stating that the use of Zoom is not safe for government office

Conclusion

We are the part of society and we live in a world of social media where generally our whole lifestyle is exposed through social media or spy cameras that’s why it is very necessary that privacy should be protected. Sharing the personal information of the people is a violation is privacy but it is claimed by the zoom company that they are handling all the problems in very little time to safeguard the privacy of all individuals.  And to tackle all the problems the company has decided to propose a 90-day security plan. Along with that the CEO of the company also started holding weekly public security briefings. They have also hired a number of privacy experts such as ‘Alex Stamos’ who formerly served as a Chief Security Officer at Facebook. So finally they claimed that the zoom has reacted very quickly to the challenges and to eradicate the privacy issues they have proposed a 90-day security plan in which their only goal is to bring more and more positive security updates for the better use of its users.


[1]Todd Hurvitz v. Zoom Video Communications, Inc., et al., No. 2:20-cv-03400

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