Zoom has made a U-turn on two key company policies in the space of a few days, with the video conferencing provider making decisions that impact both staff and customers.
Most recently, the company was forced to clarify whether user data from Zoom calls and chats would be used to train its AI tools, and even changed its Terms of Service to reflect that.
Just days before that, despite being the proverbial poster child of the remote working revolution, Zoom decided that its employees need to start coming into their offices in person. The company now believes that a hybrid approach to working is more effective.
Zoom Updates its Terms of Service After Backlash
Zoom confirmed this week that it will not use customer audio, video and chat data to improve its artificial intelligence products, tools, and systems.
Alarm bells were sounded after StackDiary reported over the weekend that changes made to the company’s services in March 2023, gave the company far-reaching permissions to use user data in machine learning processes. This led to a clarificatory change to the company’s terms of service.
It also says that, by downloading a Zoom product, “you consent to Zoom’s access, use, collection, creation, modification, distribution, processing, sharing, maintenance, and storage of Service Generated Data for any purpose… including for the purpose of… machine learning or artificial intelligence (including for the purposes of training and tuning of algorithms and models), training, testing, improvement of the Services, Software, or Zoom’s other products…”
In response to the uproar, Zoom published a blog post saying it wouldn’t use customer audio and video data, and added this to its terms of service:
“Notwithstanding the above, Zoom will not use audio, video, or chat Customer Content to train our artificial intelligence models without your consent.”
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Zoom Calls Staff Back To Office
Just a few days prior, Zoom reversed another decision, asking employees working within fifty miles of one of their offices to shift to hybrid working arrangements and come into the office at least two days a week.
The new policy will come into force during August and September and is thought to affect around 7,400 employees, CBS reports.
Zoom has said that their video conferencing technology will remain integral to the way their employees work but admitted in-person communication is an effective way to work. They join other tech companies, like Google, in bringing employees back into workspaces.
While some have pointed out the irony of Zoom’s desire to get its employees back into the office, others have dubbed it as a real sign that enthusiasm for remote work is dwindling as more and more companies end remote work in the US and all over the world.