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Zoom now says it won’t use any customer content for AI training

Zoom

Zoom, the video conferencing platform that became a household name during the pandemic, has recently faced a backlash from its users over its plans to use customer content for AI training. The company had updated its terms of service on August 1st, 2023, to state that it may “use any Customer Content that you upload, provide, or create on the Services to improve our products and services, including for machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence.”

This sparked an outcry from privacy advocates and Zoom users, who feared that their personal and professional conversations, documents, and files could be used by Zoom without their consent or knowledge. Some users also worried that Zoom could share their data with third parties or governments, especially in light of the company’s previous security and privacy issues.

In response to the criticism, Zoom has now backtracked on its policy change and clarified that it will not use any customer content for AI training. The company posted a blog post on August 11th, 2023, titled “Clarifying Our Terms of Service Update” , in which it apologized for the confusion and stated:

We want to be clear: Zoom does not use your meetings or meeting content for any advertising purposes. We do not sell your data or allow third parties to access your data for advertising purposes. We do not monitor your meetings or meeting content. We do not use any Customer Content that you upload, provide, or create on the Services to improve our products and services, including for machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence.

The blog post also explained that Zoom only uses customer content for providing and improving the services that customers have requested or consented to, such as transcription, translation, live captions, polling, whiteboarding, and file sharing. Zoom also stated that it encrypts all customer content in transit and at rest, and that customers can control their own encryption keys.

Zoom’s reversal comes as a relief to many users who rely on the platform for work, education, health care, and socializing. However, some experts and activists are still skeptical about Zoom’s commitment to privacy and transparency. They argue that Zoom should have consulted with its users before changing its terms of service in the first place, and that the company should provide more details about how it handles customer data and what safeguards it has in place to prevent misuse or abuse.

Why does Zoom want to use AI?

Zoom is not the only tech company that wants to use AI to enhance its products and services. Many other platforms, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple, use AI to power features such as voice assistants, facial recognition, content moderation, recommendation systems, and more. AI can also help companies improve their efficiency, profitability, and competitiveness in the market.

However, AI is not a magic bullet that can solve all problems. AI also comes with many challenges and risks, such as bias, discrimination, error, manipulation, surveillance, and accountability. AI also requires a lot of data to learn from and improve over time. This data can be collected from various sources, such as user behavior, feedback, preferences, interactions, and content.

This is where the issue of customer consent and control comes in. Many users may not be aware of how their data is collected, used, shared, or stored by tech companies. They may not have a clear choice or option to opt out of data collection or processing. They may not have access to their own data or the ability to delete or correct it. They may not know who is responsible or liable for any harm or damage caused by AI.

These are some of the ethical and legal questions that surround the use of AI by tech companies. These questions are not easy to answer or resolve. They require a careful balance between innovation and regulation, between privacy and security, between individual rights and social benefits.

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