Here at techforword, we’ve considerably increased our online teaching activities in recent weeks due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Our tool of choice for running those online webinars and courses is Zoom, a videoconferencing platform that has experienced considerable growth as many of us work from home and meet with colleagues and friends through web-based tools.

You may have seen in the news that Zoom has come under criticism over several privacy concerns. We are closely monitoring the situation, while trying to mitigate the possible effects for our attendees.

One issue was that Zoom’s mobile app for iPhone and iPad shared user data with Facebook, regardless of whether they are members of the social network or not. One possible vector for this was the possibility to log in to Zoom using your Facebook account. Since privacy is important to us, we have always discouraged from logging in to services using a so-called “social login” like Facebook and Twitter. As far as the data-sharing with Facebook is concerned, Zoom has already removed the code in question from its apps. (Public pressure is working!) As far as we can tell, the apps for Windows and Mac were not concerned by this.

Another controversial issue is Zoom’s “attention tracking” feature. While there might be legitimate uses for this functionality, we at techforword have never used it and will not use it in the future. It’s as simple as that. If you attend Zoom meetings and webinars elsewhere, feel free to ask the host whether they have enabled this feature. We feel you have the right to know. The same applies to recording meetings or webinars. At techforword, we are transparent about our sessions being recorded for the benefit of our attendees.

Lastly, you might want to know that Zoom meetings are encrypted, but only between the Zoom servers and the user’s device. Despite what Zoom say, this is not full end-to-end encryption.

As always, a balance must be found between convenience and features on one side and the users’ privacy on the other side. At techforword, we will continue to use Zoom because it provides both us and our attendees with a great learning and communication environment.

If you’d like to continue learning with us, you can consider joining our sessions (1) from the Zoom mobile apps (the iPhone/iPad app is sand-boxed and does not have access to anything else on the device) or (2) from a browser.

We are looking forward to further improvements to the Zoom experience with a stronger focus on user privacy. Meanwhile - stay safe and healthy.