Doc Searls: 'Zoom Needs to Clean Up Its Privacy Act'

The former editor-in-chief of the Linux Journal just published an annotated version of Zoom’s privacy policy. Searls calls it “creepily chummy with the tracking-based advertising biz (also called adtech).
I’ll narrow my inquiry down to the “Does Zoom sell Personal Data?” section of the privacy policy, which was last updated on March 18. The section runs two paragraphs, and I’ll comment on the second one, starting here:

Zoom does use certain standard advertising tools which require Personal Data …

What they mean by that is adtech. What they’re also saying here is that Zoom is in the advertising business, and in the worst end of it: the one that lives off harvested personal data. What makes this extra creepy is that Zoom is in a position to gather plenty of personal data, some of it very intimate (for example with a shrink talking to a patient) without anyone in the conversation knowing about it. (Unless, of course, they see an ad somewhere that looks like it was informed by a private conversation on Zoom.)

A person whose personal data is being shed on Zoom doesn’t know that’s happening because Zoom doesn’t tell them. There’s no red light, like the one you see when a session is being recorded. If you were in a browser instead of an app, an extension such as Privacy Badger could tell you there are trackers sniffing your ass. And, if your browser is one that cares about privacy, such as Brave, Firefox or Safari, there’s a good chance it would be blocking trackers as well. But in the Zoom app, you can’t tell if or how your personal data is being harvested.

(think, for example, Google Ads and Google Analytics).

There’s no need to think about those, because both are widely known for compromising personal privacy. (See here. And here. Also Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger’s Re-Engineering Humanity and Shoshana Zuboff’s In the Age of Surveillance Capitalism.)
Zoom claims it needs personal data to “improve” its users “experience” with ads — though Searls isn’t satisfied. (“Nobody goes to Zoom for an ‘advertising experience,’ personalized or not. And nobody wants ads aimed at their eyeballs elsewhere on the Net by third parties using personal information leaked out through Zoom.”) His conclusion?

“What Zoom’s current privacy policy says is worse than ‘You don’t have any privacy here.’ It says, ‘We expose your virtual necks to data vampires who can do what they will with it.'”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – Doc Searls: ‘Zoom Needs to Clean Up Its Privacy Act’

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