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By Clare O’Gara
Tue | May 5, 2020 | 8:35 AM PDT

With remote work more widespread than ever, the privacy practices of virtual conferencing platforms is more important than ever.

Zoom knows this well: It is being sued for allegedly violating customer privacy, has been included in unflattering headlines around the globe, and became a focus of consumer rights groups like Consumer Reports. The organization wrote to Zoom about specific privacy protections it should implement, and Zoom responded with major changes.

Now, Consumer Reports is asking other virtual meeting CEOs to make similar changes around privacy.

Consumer Reports: pushing 10 privacy demands for virtual meeting platforms

Consumer Reports recently wrote to three other companies regarding their virtual conferencing programs: Cisco's Webex; Google's Meet, Duo, and Hangouts; and Microsoft's Skype and Teams.

Consumer Reports has a variety of concerns, many of which are specific to each platform. But the overarching sentiment from the letters is clear:

"Video conferencing services are a critical part of how people are weathering the physical distancing required at this time, and people shouldn't have to make a choice between social connections, or work, or their privacy."

Consumer Reports wrote a five-page letter with 10 total recommendations for these companies. Here are three critical requests from their list:

  • Third Party Access. Companies should define if and how data collected as part of videoconferencing could be shared with third parties. People use a videoconferencing service because they want to talk to other people, not because they want to have their usage patterns tracked, and that core user expectation should be respected.
  • Implications of Employer or School Sponsorship of Service. When a videoconferencing service is offered by a school, business, or other organization, the name of the entity controlling the videoconference should be clearly and obviously visible to all conference participants.
  • Data Deletion and Retention. In their privacy policies, companies should specify clear retention periods paired with data minimization strategies for the data they collect from videoconferencing services, and any data that gets combined with data collected from videoconferencing services.

There are seven more demands for these companies in the letter. You should read about them in the complete letter here.

Cybersecurity rankings of virtual meeting apps

For all the time we're spending in these digital conferencing programs, it's important to know which ones are safer than others. 

Fortunately, SecureWorld recently covered this part of the story by looking at cybersecurity rankings, produced by Mozilla, for these 15 video conference apps:

Zoom, Google (Duo, Hangouts, Meet), FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Houseparty, Discord, Jitsi Meet, Signal, Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, Webex, and

During times like these, we can't forget to protect both our physical and digital health. Choosing the right virtual meeting platforms can help you, your school, or your organization accomplish that goal.

Tags: Video, Privacy,