Microsoft, Cisco, Zoom and Google Respond to Concerns of Privacy Watchdogs

Agencies from Australia, Canada, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Switzerland and the UK wrote to video conferencing vendors last year

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Microsoft, Cisco, Zoom and Google Respond to Concerns of Privacy Watchdogs

Microsoft, Cisco, Zoom and Google have responded to an open letter from multiple government agencies outlining privacy and security concerns.

Six global bodies, including the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), sent an open letter to vendor’s in July as video-conferencing platform adoption rocketed.

Over the Christmas break the ICO acknowledged that the four vendors had replied to the letter.

“In their responses the companies highlighted various privacy and security best practices, measures, and tools that they advise are implemented or built-in to their video teleconferencing services,” it said.

“The information provided by these companies is encouraging. It is a constructive foundation for further discussion on elements of the responses that the joint signatories feel would benefit from more clarity and additional supporting information”

The ICO also singled out Houseparty, which provides a social video platform, as the only company contacted that did not respond.

The concerns listed in the original letter centred predominately on security and privacy.

The agencies claimed that the rapid adoption of video conferencing tools last year – particularly in markets that hadn’t typically used them before – was “exacerbating existing risks with the handling of personal information by (video communication) companies”.

Zoom in particularly came under intense scrutiny over its encryption strategy last year, prompting the firm to launch a 90-day plan to bolster its security.

It quickly acquired Keybase as part of this strategy.

The letter also expressed concerns that the vendors were not making customers aware of what data they collect and how they use it.

The ICO said it will issue a “more substantive public statement” on the response from the vendor’s later this year, adding that it will ask the companies to “demonstrate how they achieve, monitor and validate the measures set out in their responses”.

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