In a string of bad press that Zoom continues to garner, the U.S Senate has now became the latest organisation to ban the videoconferencing service. The Senate’s sergeant at arms has warned all senators against using the service according to a Financial Times report based on statements from three individuals briefed on the warning.
The company has been facing ardent criticism for security breaches which involved interruptions by uninvited guests experienced by users during videoconferencing sessions. Zoom has also been under scrutiny for “mistakenly” routing user data through China to cope with an unprecedented surge in user traffic. While Taiwan and Germany have also restricted the use of the app and banned its use for official purposes, the company is not short of backlash from private enterprises as well. Google has banned the desktop version from its corporate computers while Elon Musk’s SpaceX has imposed a total ban.
Such is the extent of these security breaches that the FBI has begun to receive reports of individuals hacking meetings on the service and sharing pornographic content and abusive language. The revelations led to complaints from US Senators who also urged the Federal Trade commission to conduct investigations to conclude whether the company had broken consumer protection laws. Each senator’s office has been asked to find an alternative platform for use of remote working while the lockdown continues.
Not that Zoom isn’t doing anything at its end, The company has stopped all new product development work and has asked its entire engineering team to work towards fixing issues. It recently also introduced a ‘Waiting List’ feature, helping conference hosts to moderate attendees to some extent. Just yesterday, news came in that Zoom has hired former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos as an advisor and set up consultative bodies to deal with the issue.
According to a memo from the US Department of Homeland Security, the company was actively responding to concerns and had an understanding of how grave the situation was. Although misleading statements about its encryption technology and fear over official data being compromised led to this decision of the Senate, the Pentagon is still allowing its personnel to use the service.