Now that so many people are working from home, they are using conferencing platforms like Zoom. There’s been some talk about Zoom actually collecting what seems an invasive amount of information about people while they are connected to Zoom. EFF recently noted about Zoom:
The host of a Zoom call has the capacity to monitor the activities of attendees while screen-sharing. This functionality is available in Zoom version 4.0 and higher. If attendees of a meeting do not have the Zoom video window in focus during a call where the host is screen-sharing, after 30 seconds the host can see indicators next to each participant’s name indicating that the Zoom window is not active.
Administrators and User Tracking
Zoom allows administrators to see detailed views on how, when, and where users are using Zoom, with detailed dashboards in real-time of user activity. Zoom also provides a ranking system of users based on total number of meeting minutes. If a user records any calls via Zoom, administrators can access the contents of that recorded call, including video, audio, transcript, and chat files, as well as access to sharing, analytics, and cloud management privileges.
For any meeting that has occurred or is in-process, Zoom allows administrators to see the operating system, IP address, location data, and device information of each participant. This device information includes the type of machine (PC/Mac/Linux/mobile/etc), specs on the make/model of your peripheral audiovisual devices like cameras or speakers, and names for those devices (for example, the user-configurable names given to AirPods). Administrators also have the ability to join any call at any time on their organization’s instance of Zoom, without in-the-moment consent or warning for the attendees of the call.
Bill Fitzgerald tweeted the following advice today that you might want to consider:
Protip: when on a Zoom call, mute your mic and put your phone next to your computer out of the video.
On your computer, click into the Zoom window.
On your phone, do whatever you want.
Congratulations. According to Zoom, you’re “paying attention.”
— Bill Fitzgerald (@funnymonkey) March 25, 2020