On Saturday, New York City authorities forbade the remote conferencing services company Zoom amid privacy and security concerns, the Chalkbeat website reported.
According to the City's Department of Education memorandum, obtained by Chalkbeat, the department received numerous reports of problems with the platform's privacy settings.
“Based on the DOE’s review of those documented concerns, the DOE will no longer permit the use of Zoom at this time”, the memo, shared with the school principals, reads.
The Microsoft Teams program should be used instead, the document suggests, as it functions similarly and is more protected in terms of security.
“Zoom takes user privacy, security, and trust extremely seriously”, a Zoom spokesperson said via e-mail to the Fox News agency in response to the security issues raised. “We recently updated the default settings for education users enrolled in our K-12 program to enable waiting rooms and ensure teachers are the only ones who can share content in a class by default.”
On 27 March, the company issued detailed guidance on how to better secure video conferences.
"Did you know you can lock a Zoom session that’s already started, so that no one else can join? Give students a few minutes to file in and then click Participants at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the Participants pop-up, click the button that says Lock Meeting", the guidance reads.
Earlier in the week, the video conferencing platform Zoom was sued by Californian Robert Cullen, who claimed that the service illegally provided users’ personal information to another party without first disclosing such an exchange.
Over the past two weeks, Zoom has become one of the most popular video-conferencing services after new users worldwide created accounts to stay connected with employers whilst working from home – after many offices and business closed their doors because of the COVID-19 outbreak.