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Video conferencing poses privacy concerns

On Behalf of | May 5, 2020 | Employment Law |

The stay at home orders have forced many still lucky enough to have a job to work from home. Some have more experience than others in doing this, but one shift has been the full embrace of video conferencing platforms as an alternative to company-wide meetings, team updates and even one-on-ones between managers and employees.

This has been a boon for workers who feel isolated. Still, there have been ongoing reports of privacy concerns, particularly with the user-friendly Zoom, whose usage saw an uptick from 10 million customers a day in December 2019 to over 100 million in mid-March after the stay at home orders were put in place. One unfortunate but not surprising outgrowth of this was so-called Zoombombing, where uninvited internet trolls would hijack company meetings and publish highly inappropriate and sometimes sexually explicit content.

Businesses can protect themselves

Critics singled out Zoom because of its lax security standards that favored easier user access. However, technology experts point out that Zoom is not alone – Webex, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and others also have their security concerns for keeping personal and business information safe while teleconferencing. Suggestions for doing this include:

  • Pick a platform: Settling upon a single platform minimizes the company’s digital footprint and enables staff to become well acquainted with the platform, including how to better secure meetings and the ability to avoid bogging down meetings with avoidable tech difficulties.
  • Use outside privacy precautions: Create an exclusive email account specifically for admin duties and attach a highly rated password to it.
  • Assume your meeting is not private: This applies to all online interactions or even conference calls. Make a policy that everyone not talking be on mute and turn off your camera when possible. If the camera is used, be mindful of personal details revealed in a home workspace (some employees avoid this by using blurred or virtual backgrounds).
  • Use the phone: Many meetings do not need a video component, so push them to phone or even a conference call.

The new normal

Many talk about when this pandemic ends or when stay at home orders expire, but the use of video platforms and work from home arrangements will likely remain commonplace with many companies. It may be best for businesses to adapt to this new reality, but they should nonetheless also update their training and best practices to protect the company and the employees from facing security issues or potential disputes.