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New York Attorney General Examining Zoom Privacy Practices

New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, announces a lawsuit by the state of New York against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc in New York City, November 19, 2019. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

New York Attorney General Letitia James said Monday that she is examining the privacy practices of Zoom as the video conferencing platform spikes in popularity as more businesses operate remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

James said in a Monday letter that Zoom is “an essential and valuable communications platform” but cautioned that the company has not sufficiently addressed security issues “that could enable malicious third parties to, among other things, gain surreptitious access to consumer webcams.”

Meanwhile, Zoom’s stock has jumped as orders for the app poured in but were flat in extended trading on Monday after the New York Times report that the New York attorney general is looking at its security practices.

The attorney general’s office is “concerned that Zoom’s existing security practices might not be sufficient to adapt to the recent and sudden surge in both the volume and sensitivity of data being passed through its network.”

“While Zoom has remediated specific reported security vulnerabilities, we would like to understand whether Zoom has undertaken a broader review of its security practices,” James wrote.

The FBI warned Monday that incidents of hijacking the video conferencing app or “Zoom-bombing” have emerged since the coronavirus outbreak began. Conferences have been disrupted by pornographic content, hate images, and threatening language. One instance involved an individual dialing into an online high school class based in Massachusetts and yelling out profanity as well as the teacher’s home address. In a second instance, an individual invaded a video conference and displayed swastika tattoos.

After complaints from users, Zoom on Sunday updated its privacy policy, emphasizing that the company has implemented “robust and validated controls to prevent unauthorized access” to meetings and their contents.

“Zoom takes its users’ privacy, security, and trust extremely seriously,” a company spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the company appreciates the attorney general’s involvement and is “happy to provide her with the requested information.”

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