U.S. Senate reportedly warns members not to use Zoom

The United States Senate is the latest to abandon videoconferencing app Zoom over its privacy issues, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The Senate’s sergeant-at-arms has warned all senators not to use the service, which has been plagued by concerns over security and privacy. The report states senators were asked to use alternative platforms for videoconferencing but the warning stopped short of banning Zoom completely.

Zoom has exploded in popularity since lockdowns went into effect to slow the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. But the service has been dogged by allegations of shady privacy practices and lax security measures.

The U.S. Capitol building
The U.S. Capitol building Photo by Mike Kline (notkalvin) / Getty Images

Last week, Google barred its employees from downloading the app onto their work computers. A Google spokesperson told Digital Trends that Zoom didn’t meet the tech giant’s security standards. Last month, SpaceX also banned the app over security concerns.

In a statement to Digital Trends, Zoom said it communicating with US Senate offices about its Zoom for Government feature, which the service said complies with federal security policies.

“Zoom takes user security extremely seriously and is committed to ensuring the privacy, security and trust of its service for all our users and providing regular updates on the steps we are taking to further strengthen our platform,” a Zoom spokesperson added.

Zoom was forced to update its service after an investigation by Motherboard found the app was sending data to Facebook without telling its users. Internet trolls called “Zoombombers” have also targeted the service by using weak privacy settings to hijack random Zoom calls and post obscene content.

The videoconferencing service was forced to apologize over misleading claims about encryption and admitted some user data may have been mistakenly routed through China.

Zoom has tried to address its critics, freezing the development of new features for the app to focus on plugging privacy holes. While CEO Eric Yuan admitted mistakes were made, he said in a CNN interview that improvements have been made. Zoom also changed its default settings to promote more privacy-friendly options.

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