Zoom Can Use Customer Data to Train AI

 By: Nick Gambino

With the explosion of AI chatbots in the last few months the for and against factions have been going to battle on X (formerly known as Twitter) over whether we should submit to our digital overlords.

This past week saw a plethora of tweets and other posts deriding Zoom’s decision to start using customer data to train their AI. The new terms of service reflects this change. Luckily some eagle-eyed observer read through the minutia of the legal document to find this little tidbit.

At the time that this blew up on social media, the terms of service had some pretty strong language that would scare even a casual reader. Words like “grant Zoom a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license” blah blah blah and which includes using said license for training “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence.”

Zoom was quick to jump in and try to quell the rebellion. They issued a blog post clarifying that this would be opt-in only and not against any user’s will as many posts suggested. Whether this was the original intention or not isn’t clear. They’ve updated their terms of service to reflect this and to tamp down the strong language that sounded a lot like a conversation with the Architect in The Matrix.

AI is mainly used in Zoom as a generative feature. They recently introduced Zoom IQ Meeting Summary for creating quick summaries after a meeting and Zoom IQ Team Chat Compose to help construct chat messages. If you decide to enable either of these two features, you will now be taken through a consent process for the video conferencing platform to use your customer data – including audio, video, chat – to train their AI models. They note that your data is not used to train any third-party models.

“To reiterate: we do not use audio, video or chat content for training our models without customer consent,” Smita Hashim, Chief Product Officer at Zoom, said in the blog post. “We remain committed to transparency, and our aim is to provide you with the tools you need to make informed decisions about your Zoom account.”

Who knows what AI will look like in a few years. Is it a passing fad? Will it be sewn into the very fabric of everything we do? In this nascent stage of AI chatbots it’s hard to accurately predict, but it is heartening that the pitchfork social media mobs are keeping these tech yahoos honest.