Michael Suguitan / Sun Staff Photographer

The Student Assembly passed the proposals on April 23.

April 17, 2020

S.A. Resolution Underscores Privacy Concerns Over Cornell’s Use of Zoom

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The Student Assembly unanimously passed a resolution urging Cornell to offer more stringent privacy protections for students using Zoom, the video conferencing software at the heart of Cornell’s newly digital campus.

While it did not call for Cornell to replace the software, the resolution noted that Zoom has already been banned by a number of high-profile organizations — including SpaceX, the New York City Department of Education and Google — due to growing privacy concerns.

“It’s time for Cornell to support students in case [problems] come up,” said Lucas Smith ’22, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences representative. “We have no choice but to use Zoom.”

Smith, the sponsor of the resolution, compared it to a similar measure introduced in the Graduate and Professional Students Assembly, which ultimately was tabled indefinitely on April 6.

Unease surrounding Zoom stems partly from an apparent rise in “Zoombombing” — intrusions into video calls that display pornography, hate images or threatening language, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

S.A. members also raised concerns over a line in Zoom’s terms and conditions that waives users’ right to file a class action lawsuit against the company in the event of a privacy leak.

The flood of criticism directed towards Zoom comes as the Silicon Valley-based company experiences meteoric growth, jumping from 10 to 200 million active users in less than three months. For his part, Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan pledged to focus on the firm’s lingering safety and privacy issues in an April 1 blog post.

“Transparency has always been a core part of our culture,” Yuan wrote.