"The times, they are changing" are words that were famously written and sung by Bob Dylan a little less than six decades ago, but these words are truly coming to life now in the wake of the current circumstances. The SARS CoV2/ Covid-19 or Novel Corona Virus ("the virus") as its better known is the new variation of the Corona Virus which has taken over the world and is showing no signs of backing down anytime soon. The virus which originated from China sometime around November 2019 has quickly spread to other parts of the world causing a devastating impact in some of the world's most technologically advanced countries such as Italy, Spain, the USA, France, the UK amongst others. India and several other Asian countries have been affected as well but various efforts are being taken to try and curb the virus while valiant efforts are being made to develop either a cure or a vaccine. Unprecedented times such as these usher in unprecedented changes, in a bid to tackle the virus and ensure continuity various businesses, people across the world have started practicing social distancing and consequently encouraged their employees to work from home wherever possible. This is possible because of the availability of video conferencing tools and other remote means of communication, which have seen our homes transform into our office spaces. They also help us human beings stay connected with friends and family, regardless of where they are on the planet.
The increase in the adoption of video conferencing tools over the course of the last few weeks has been impressive. Microsoft's video and audio chat service, Skype, has witnessed a 70% increase of daily users compared to one month ago, with 40 million people using it on a daily basis1. The other tools like Cisco's Webex Meetings and Zoom have also reported record usage of their services over the last two months2. Video conferencing tools enable us to virtually access the outside world from the safety and comfort of our homes.
While we appreciate how video conferencing tool providers facilitate this, it is equally important for us to ensure the safety of our digital footprint and the data that is being shared with these various video conferencing platforms. This article aims to analyze the privacy policies of two major such platforms, Zoom and Vidyo while also trying to analyze their interplay with proposed laws in India such as the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 ("PDP Bill") and existing international covenants such as the General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR").
Zoom has recently been in the news for the wrong reasons as well. The Government of India has issued circulars to various government departments asking them to avoid using Zoom and it has further been categorized as unsafe and dangerous. Zoom has gone the extra mile and published its security measures on its website and it also enlists the measures it is taking to protect user privacy in a separate post on its website. This is indeed a welcome step, as any user who is using Zoom is now provided with a simple interface to understand the infrastructure in place to keep their conversations private and ensure their privacy.
- Providing its products and services;
- In connection with ongoing customer relationship such as providing customers with information about software updates, etc.;
- Evaluating and improving products and services;
- Operating and evaluating websites as well as customizing and improving its marketing activities; and
- To comply with legal or governmental requirements or demands.
Despite the convenience factor and the safety factor, Vidyo seems to be the preferred communication platform of the Government as opposed to Zoom.
1 Ian Sherr, "Microsoft's Skype sees massive increase in usage as coronavirus spreads" (cnet, 30 March 2020), accessed 31.03.2020, available at https://www.cnet.com/news/microsofts-skype-sees-massive-increase-in-usage-as-coronavirusspreads/
2 Jordan Novet, "Cisco says Webex video-calling service is seeing record usage too, even as competitor Zoom draws all the attention" (CNBC, 17 March 2020), accessed 31.03.2020, available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/17/cisco-webexsees-record-usage-during-coronavirus-expansion-like-zoom.html
3 Micah Lee, Yael Grauer "Zoom meetings aren't end-to-end encrypted, despite misleading marketing" (The Intercept, 31 March 2020), accessed 5.5.2020, available at https://theintercept.com/2020/03/31/zoom-meeting-encryption/
4 Joseph Cox "Zoom is leaking peoples' email addresses and photos to strangers" (Motherboard, Tech by Vice, 1 April 2020), accessed 5.5.2020, available at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/k7e95m/zoom-leaking-email-addressesphotos
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.