Is Zoom malevolent?

I’m not someone to read the Terms and Conditions of the various products I and my businesses use in our day to day work.

I don’t know Adam Matysiak , his post was brought to my attention on the Pension PlayPen linked in group which I own and moderate.

It was brought to my attention by Gary Spedding, another person I don’t know.

So what I was reading  below could be alarmist nonsense.

It took me a long time to navigate Zoom’s website to get to the terms and conditions but I eventually got there and this is what my terms and conditions currently say

10.2 Permitted Uses and Customer License Grant. Zoom will only access, process or use Customer Content for the following reasons (the “Permitted Uses”): (i) consistent with this Agreement and as required to perform our obligations and provide the Services; (ii) in accordance with our Privacy Statement; (iii) as authorized or instructed by you; (iv) as required by Law; or (v) for legal, safety or security purposes, including enforcing our Acceptable Use Guidelines. You grant Zoom a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license and all other rights required or necessary for the Permitted Uses.

Zoom does not use any of your audio, video, chat, screen sharing, attachments or other communications-like Customer Content (such as poll results, whiteboard and reactions) to train Zoom or third-party artificial intelligence models.

This is not the wording of Adam’s post, Adam’s post includes his own interpretation of what has been said and I have to agree that Zoom’s “obligations to provide the services” include obligations to maximise shareholder profits by using what it’s learning from the millions of meetings it hosts every day.

And the key acronym is of course AI. The price we pay for using Zoom for free or for the £9 per month which is the basic business cost , is that everything we say could be taken down and used in evidence about us.

Is Adam’s post alarmist nonsense or has it identified a gateway to malevolence against us?


Evidence “about” us , can be stretched to evidence against us. But that is to extend the omnipotence of artificial intelligence to include a malevolence that most of us don’t buy into.

Zoom has Acceptable Use Guidelines which state what it doesn’t want Zoom used for , and these are malevolent. Where we find Zoom being used for malevolent purposes we

If there are instances of violations of these Acceptable Use Guidelines, Zoom wants us to it to them by using this form.

But here I have my difficulty. To get to that form, I need to navigated deep into the jungle of Zoom’s policies.

To get to the content I’m reporting on, Zoom simply has to use its “Customer Licence Grant”.

Put another way, if Zoom is clever enough to use AI to work out what its customer’s are up to, why can’t it police itself. Why is it relying on us?

Policing the net.

It looks , from what the post says, that Zoom is looking to extend its rights to the content we create by using its service.

Though I never received anything from Zoom on 7th August or the days after about my terms and conditions being changed, I was concerned enough by the post on my site to look further into the matter and what I found can lend itself to Adam’s interpretation.

But as a small time user, am I in any position to push back on this supposed intrusion into my civil liberties? I feel I am powerless

Can I really be expected to help Zoom police the content that I encounter on Zoom? Again I feel I am powerless.

Posts such as Adam’s scare me, reading the comments that followed the post scared me just as much.

The reality is that we don’t know what Zoom has on us, what record of our behaviour , of what we say, of how we look and react to what others say, is being used either to help or hinder us.

And for Zoom – read any other system that hosts our calls and conversations.

What Zoom says

Zoom has made this statement

To clarify, Zoom customers decide whether to enable generative AI features (recently launched on a free trial basis) and separately whether to share customer content with Zoom for product improvement purposes.

Also, Zoom participants receive an in-meeting notice or a Chat Compose pop-up when these features are enabled through our UI, and they will definitely know their data may be used for product improvement purposes.

Zoom has also written a blog , repeating its position in10.2

To reiterate: Zoom does not use any of your audio, video, chat, screen-sharing, attachments, or other communications like customer content (such as poll results, whiteboard, and reactions) to train Zoom’s or third-party artificial intelligence models.

But concern remains.

I hope that in my crowded day, I have time to read such in meeting notices , have time to decide whether I am in and out of “sharing” and can work out what the implications of doing this are to me and my colleagues, who I require to use my Zoom.

We have a little button on our screen that says “record”, but Zoom has a much bigger button that has potentially recorded everything. Just what we have curated Zoom , whether for or against us, we have no means of knowing.

In Zoom and Teams and Webex, we trust, but only so far.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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4 Responses to Is Zoom malevolent?

  1. byronmckeeby says:

    This issue was flagged up a fortnight or so ago on Risks Digest.

    ‘Additionally, under section 10.4 of the updated terms, Zoom has secured a
    “perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable, and
    transferable license” to redistribute, publish, access, use, store,
    transmit, review, disclose, preserve, extract, modify, reproduce, share,
    use, display, copy, distribute, translate, transcribe, create derivative works, and process Customer Content.’

    Lawyers asked to draft such clauses often go way beyond what is required.

    I can think of ‘entire agreement’ clauses which were typically slipped into investment management and other contracts with unsuspecting trustees.

    An entire agreement clause in a contract asserts that the contract constitutes the whole agreement between the parties and seeks to prevent the parties from relying on any preceding agreements, negotiations or discussions that have not been set out in the agreement.

    We have been warned.

    Caveat Zoomer.

  2. Derek Scott says:

    I raised Byron’s question just now at an Edinburgh Book Festival event with Kate Crawford and she suggested Zoom users should consider “collective action” to push back on such unilateral terms being imposed on us. She also said Zoom introduced these contract terms in March but they’ve only been noticed very recently.

  3. DaveC says:

    I’m amazed anyone uses anything where the content isn’t end to end encrypted.

    Zoom having anything except meta-data would be surprising?

    Do they really keep all the video, audio and files?

    If so, why are people even using them?

  4. byronmckeeby says:

    Companies used to collect data but not know what to do with it. If nothing else, there’s something profitable they can now do: sell data on to model developers, or to data curators.

    If something else, Zoom and its virtual meeting provider rivals must be seeking ways to make online meetings more productive and efficient, selling us more features to use alongside existing chat, voting, etc.

    As a minimum, if you do continue to use Zoom, check/ask whether the meeting organiser has enabled the IQ feature, an “AI smart companion” also introduced in March.

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