Zoom seeks to tamp down user backlash over new AI terms

Zoom seeks to tamp down user backlash over new AI terms

'We do not use audio, video, or chat content for training our models without customer consent,' video-conferencing service says amid uproar

By Darren Lyn

HOUSTON, United States (AA) - Video-conferencing service Zoom responded to backlash on Monday after users discovered that updated terms of service allows the company to use customer data to train its artificial intelligence models.

"For AI, we do not use audio, video, or chat content for training our models without customer consent," said chief product officer Smita Hashim in a blog post that sought to clarify Zoom's updated terms of service.

Effective July 27, Zoom's terms of service mandates users consent to potentially having their customer content used, which critics have interpreted as a green light for the company to train and test the company's AI using that data.

The update comes amid growing public debate regarding the extent to which AI models should be trained using people's personal data no matter if companies say that data is aggregated or anonymous.

Zoom, which became a household name during the pandemic, introduced two new generative AI features in June on a free trial basis: a meeting summary tool and a tool for composing chat messages. However, when users enable these features, Zoom requires them to sign another consent form allowing the company to train its AI models.

"Your content is used solely to improve the performance and accuracy of these AI services," Hashim explained. "And even if you chose to share your data, it will not be used for training of any third-party models."

Not everyone sees it that way.

"We run our training workshops on Zoom, so Zoom is effectively planning to train its AI on our entire workshop content with no compensation, so bye-bye Zoom," Eliot Higgins, the founder of investigative news website Bellingcat, said in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Hashim said the company's intention "was to make clear that customers create and own their own video, audio, and chat content," adding that "we have permission to use this customer content to provide value-added services based on this content."

Zoom's new terms of service regarding using customer data is confusing some of its users.

"Wait wait, what is Service Generated Data exactly?" said Manel Heredero on X. "I don't think it's the actual video, audio and chat."

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