Zoom could use your calls and data for AI training.

Zoom could use your calls and data for AI training.

Zoom’s Updated Terms of Service Sparks Concerns over AI Training


In a surprising move, Zoom, the popular video conferencing platform, recently updated its terms of service to include the use of user data for training artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. The wording in the updated terms has sparked concerns and raised questions about user privacy and the potential implications of this new policy.

The updated terms state that users grant Zoom a “perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license and all other rights required or necessary” to customer content, including for the purpose of “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence.” Another section of the terms specifies that certain user data can be used for “machine learning or artificial intelligence (including for the purposes of training and tuning of algorithms and models).”

These changes in Zoom’s policies were first noticed by the developer-focused website Stack Diary, which quickly brought them to the attention of the online community. Many users expressed outrage over the prospect of their personal data being utilized for AI purposes. However, the complex language used in the terms of service has made it difficult to ascertain the exact nature and scope of the data that Zoom intends to use for AI and machine learning.

In response to the outcry, Zoom published a blog post attempting to clarify the updated terms. The company reiterated that customers retain ownership of their content, even though Zoom has “permission to use this customer content to provide value-added service.” Zoom also emphasized that the section referring to AI training (section 10.2) pertains to “certain information about how our customers in the aggregate use our product,” which Zoom considers its own data.

Addressing concerns over privacy, Zoom highlighted in bold text that they do not use audio, video, or chat content for training their AI models without customer consent. However, Zoom did mention that if users opt to utilize the platform’s generative AI features, such as a meeting summary tool, they will have the choice to share their content with Zoom for AI training. This implies that users have the ability to toggle access to their data on or off.

While it is not uncommon for companies to use service-generated data for AI or base their algorithms on user-generated data, the intimate nature of video calls has made users particularly uneasy about the prospect of their images and conversations being used for AI purposes. Zoom asserts that users have control over their data, but the extensive language in the terms of service has still left many customers apprehensive about the potential implications, as the open-ended nature of the language makes it challenging to predict the long-term consequences.

In addition to these concerns over its new terms of service, Zoom’s public image has suffered another blow. The company, which has become synonymous with remote work during the pandemic, is now requiring its employees to return to the office. Employees within 50 miles of an office are mandated to work in-person at least two days per week. This move has led to further speculation about trust, as Zoom’s actions contradict the notion of trusting employees to work remotely while simultaneously asking customers to trust the platform with their data.

In conclusion, Zoom’s updated terms of service have raised concerns about the use of user data for AI training. The company’s attempts to clarify the new policies have provided some reassurance, but the complex legalese and open-ended language in the terms still leave users wary of their data being used without their consent. It remains essential for privacy experts to thoroughly analyze Zoom’s practices to ensure transparency and protect user privacy.