Rwanda: Zoom Clears the Air Over Security and Safety Issues

Following the recent privacy concerns by the public, Zoom the popular video conferencing platform, will with immediate effect freeze new feature development and shift all engineering resources to security and safety issues, its top leadership has said.

The move comes as the company battles damage caused by a string of minor scandals while also ensuring platform safety, privacy and security.

"We have fallen short of the community's and our own privacy and security expectations," Zoom's founder and CEO, Eric Yuan, is quoted saying in a blogpost published on 1st April. "For that, I am deeply sorry."

Since its influx of users per day ballooned overnight, Zoom has come under increasing scrutiny from privacy campaigners, security researchers, and members of the public, pointing out faults in the platform's programming, policies, and practices.

To put its growth in context, Yuan said that at the end of December last year, the maximum number of daily meetings participants both free and paid conducted on Zoom was approximately 10 million. In March this year, the firm reached more than 200 million daily meeting participants.

The most public problem facing the firm has been the rise of "Zoombombings", when people join public video chats to cause havoc among their members by broadcasting pornography, hurling abuse, undressing in front of their webcam among others.

"We now have a much broader set of users who are utilizing our product in a myriad of unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived." Yuan said, "Zoombombings can be prevented by changing the app's settings, Zoom said in late March as the problem was growing. And other tools, such as such as YouTube or Twitch live streams, may be more appropriate for some uses, such as a broadcast of an author reading their book."

On the other hand, IT expert Olivier Minani highlighted that many of the firm's scrutiny are a result of zoom prioritizing growth over security, adding that: "With this crisis at hand, it should be more than just the potential to increase its users. But rather seize the opportunity to prioritize security and safety at a time when all their customers are questioning their service"

"Over the next 90 days, we will conduct a comprehensive review with third-party experts, publish a transparency report, and run penetration tests to find and fix further flaws," said Yuan.

Minani believes that, it is the right approach.

"All people need is the company to make it right in a way that's transparent and visible".

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