Why I No Longer Use Zoom
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My Take on Zoom's New Terms of Service
Privacy and intellectual property rights have become increasingly critical and concerning in the past few years. This has always been an issue, but there seems to be an increasing amount of uproar lately. Recently, Zoom, a popular video conferencing platform, has come under my scrutiny due to certain changes in their Terms of Service. In this article, I'm going to share my perspective on these changes and explain why I've chosen to reconsider using Zoom for my video calls.
The Concerning Terms
Zoom introduced significant changes to section 10 of their Terms of Service in April 2023. These changes, as I see it, compel users to agree to a few contentious terms that could have serious implications for their intellectual property rights:
- Zoom can train their AI on anything uploaded or created on the platform: This includes transcripts and recordings, and the resulting model can be used for any purpose. No opt-out is available for this.
- Zoom has indefinite rights equivalent to ownership for future use: Essentially, Zoom gets a free pass to continue using your uploaded content indefinitely.
- Users must indemnify Zoom for potential IP infringements: If I were to discuss confidential materials that everyone on the call is entitled to review, I'm indemnifying Zoom if they train their AI with someone else's IP.
The Risks Involved
These terms present a series of potential problems. The expansive license granted to Zoom allows the platform to use your content for a host of purposes, including product development, marketing, analytics, and importantly, machine learning and AI training.
Moreover, the responsibility falls on me to ensure that the content I upload doesn't infringe upon the rights of any third party. This responsibility extends to obtaining consent and providing notices according to the laws applicable to those involved in the video call.
To me, this seems like an exceptional risk for anyone who possesses intellectual property or is under a non-disclosure agreement regarding someone else's secrets. If I were to discuss a client brief or a legal case under privilege, I might be infringing on third-party rights.
While Zoom's COO states that the actual use of AI features is opt-in, I find this irrelevant since the Terms grant permission regardless. The Customer Content exists whether you use the AI features or not.
My Preferred Alternative: Roll My Own
Rolling my own solution is my preferred alternative. Using open-source software to build a video conferencing platform that I can host on my own server is the ideal solution. This approach offers several advantages:
- I can control the platform's features.
- I can control the platform's security.
- I can control the platform's data.
- I can control the platform's terms of service.
While this strategy is certainly ideal, it's not an easy solution. It requires a significant amount of time and effort to build and maintain a video conferencing platform. It would also require adoption by those I wish to communicate with, which is highly unlikely without significant time, outreach, training and support.
My Second Preferred Alternative: Jitsi
Considering these concerns, I've sought alternatives to Zoom. Jitsi is my preferred choice. It offers equivalent functionality to Zoom but with some notable advantages:
- It is platform-independent.
- It can be used without an account.
- It is open-source.
- It can be self-hosted.
Most importantly, Jitsi doesn't impose the same contentious terms as Zoom, making it a safer choice for those concerned about their intellectual property rights.
My Third Preferred Alternative: Google Meet
For quick and easy video calls, Google Meet is my preferred choice. It offers equivalent functionality to Zoom but with some notable advantages:
- It is free.
- It is secure - I think?
- It is easy to use.
- It runs in the browser.
Most importantly, Google Meet doesn't impose the same contentious terms as Zoom, making it a safer choice for those concerned about their intellectual property rights. At least not yet anyway. Nevertheless, it's still Google, so I'm not entirely comfortable with it.
While Zoom offers convenience for video conferencing, the changes to their Terms of Service, from my perspective, raise serious concerns about intellectual property rights and privacy. As a user, it's crucial for me to fully understand the terms I agree to when using these platforms, and if necessary, to consider safer alternatives like Jitsi. I hope my perspective helps others in making an informed decision about their use of video conferencing platforms.
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