A recent revelation has raised significant concerns about the use of private calls and messages to train artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The San Jose-based company Zoom, known for its popular video conferencing platform, has introduced new terms and conditions that grant them the ability to use your private content for AI training purposes.

The updated terms and conditions, which went into effect in March but gained widespread attention recently, have ignited a wave of backlash from users who are questioning the implications of this move. A closer examination of the new terms sheds light on the extent of Zoom’s access to user data for AI training, causing many to contemplate the trade-off between convenience and privacy.

Buried within Zoom’s updated terms and conditions is a section that gives the company permission to utilise customer content, including private video calls, text messages, and meetings, for the purpose of training and enhancing its AI algorithms and models. While AI systems typically rely on publicly available data for training, Zoom’s move introduces the controversial practice of using private customer data. The provision raises legitimate concerns about the potential misuse of sensitive information and the erosion of user privacy.

News of Zoom’s updated terms and conditions quickly spread, sparking outrage and prompting heated discussions online. Many users expressed their concerns over the company’s potential access to personal conversations and data, fearing that their private interactions could be utilised without their knowledge or consent. Critics argue that the vague language used in the terms leaves room for interpretation, leaving users uncertain about the true extent of Zoom’s data usage.

Zoom’s Response

Zoom has responded to the uproar with a blog post penned by Chief Product Officer Smita Hashim. She asserted, “To reiterate: we do not use audio, video, or chat content for training our models without customer consent.” This clarification aims to assuage concerns, emphasising that AI training is carried out only with the explicit consent of users.

Zoom, in its blog post, elucidates that customer data will be harnessed to train AI models geared toward summarising meetings. Importantly, users must provide explicit consent for such usage. Hashim explains, “Your content is used solely to improve the performance and accuracy of these AI services. And even if you chose to share your data, it will not be used for training of any third-party models.”

However, the reassurance hasn’t managed to quell the growing unease. Some users have expressed concerns over their workshops becoming a training ground for Zoom’s AI. The implications of Zoom’s data usage transcend individual reservations and touch on broader implications for privacy in the age of advancing AI technology.