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By now, you’re more than likely familiar with the first prompt—it’s the text that appears when you first open Zoom, and by enabling this function you can join a meeting using your computer’s microphone. Zoom is the video conferencing app that has recently surged in popularity due to the coronavirus pandemic. Zoom allows users to work or learn remotely, all from a safe social distance in the relative privacy of their own homes. While the company responsible for the app, Zoom Video Communications, hasn’t given concrete numbers regarding the size of its userbase, Zoom’s mobile platform was so popular towards the end of March that it was second only to TikTok as the most downloaded app globally. And yet, despite this ubiquity, you are probably not familiar with the second prompt. Of course, that’s because it wasn’t a prompt at all. Recent reporting revealed that Zoom was silently sending personal information to Facebook’s servers each time the Zoom app was accessed, and it was doing so without first seeking user approval. Details delivered to Facebook included when the user opened the app, their location, their phone carrier and model, as well as an advertising identifier uniquely generated by the user’s device that helps companies to target the user with personalized advertisements. Moreover, even if users had read the company’s privacy policy (which a majority of people do not), they would not have been aware that Zoom was disclosing this information because Zoom’s privacy policy did not even detail this practice!

This post was originally published on the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal website on April 19, 2020. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.

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