What's one company that prospered hugely, almost unmanageably, off of the sudden work-from-home blast of early 2020? Zoom. And what's one company telling its employees to come back to the office now? If you're guessing, Zoom, you are correct. The whole conversation around returning to the office is really about a handful of billionaires with declining value in their office properties, fretting about how the serfs won't get in line and prop them up by absorbing daily two-hour commutes and enormous hits on their quality of life. One of them even said to a hot mic that what it will take is a "nice little recession" to scare hoi polloi into better compliance with his greed. Damn, doesn't he know better than to say the quiet parts out loud?
Anyway. This week's real Zoom story isn't even this deliciously ironic bit of otherwise ho-hum business news.
The real Zoom story this week is about a change they slipped into their TOS at the end of July, that people started noticing in the past week or so. The interesting sections now read like this:
10.2 Service Generated Data; Consent to Use. Customer Content does not include any telemetry data, product usage data, diagnostic data, and similar content or data that Zoom collects or generates in connection with your or your End Users’ use of the Services or Software (“Service Generated Data”). As between you and Zoom, all right, title, and interest in and to Service Generated Data, and all Proprietary Rights therein, belong to and are retained solely by Zoom. You agree that Zoom compiles and may compile Service Generated Data based on Customer Content and use of the Services and Software. You consent to Zoom’s access, use, collection, creation, modification, distribution, processing, sharing, maintenance, and storage of Service Generated Data for any purpose, to the extent and in the manner permitted under applicable Law, including for the purpose of product and service development, marketing, analytics, quality assurance, machine learning or artificial intelligence (including for the purposes of training and tuning of algorithms and models), training, testing, improvement of the Services, Software, or Zoom’s other products, services, and software, or any combination thereof, and as otherwise provided in this Agreement. In furtherance of the foregoing, if, for any reason, there are any rights in such Service Generated Data which do not accrue to Zoom under this Section 10.2 or as otherwise provided in this Agreement, you hereby unconditionally and irrevocably assign and agree to assign to Zoom on your behalf, and you shall cause your End Users to unconditionally and irrevocably assign and agree to assign to Zoom, all right, title, and interest in and to the Service Generated Data, including all Proprietary Rights relating thereto.
10.3 Permitted Use; Customer Content. Zoom may redistribute, publish, import, access, use, store, transmit, review, disclose, preserve, extract, modify, reproduce, share, use, display, copy, distribute, translate, transcribe, create derivative works, and process Customer Content: (i) in accordance with this Agreement and as required to perform our obligations under this Agreement; (ii) in accordance with our Privacy Statement; (iii) as authorized or instructed by you; (iv) as permitted or required by Law; (v) for trust and safety purposes, including monitoring and enforcing our Acceptable Use Guidelines; or (vi) to protect the rights, property, or security of Zoom, its end users, customers, or the public, including systems and networks.
10.4 Customer License Grant. You agree to grant and hereby grant Zoom a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license and all other rights required or necessary to redistribute, publish, import, access, use, store, transmit, review, disclose, preserve, extract, modify, reproduce, share, use, display, copy, distribute, translate, transcribe, create derivative works, and process Customer Content and to perform all acts with respect to the Customer Content: (i) as may be necessary for Zoom to provide the Services to you, including to support the Services; (ii) for the purpose of product and service development, marketing, analytics, quality assurance, machine learning, artificial intelligence, training, testing, improvement of the Services, Software, or Zoom’s other products, services, and software, or any combination thereof; and (iii) for any other purpose relating to any use or other act permitted in accordance with Section 10.3. If you have any Proprietary Rights in or to Service Generated Data or Aggregated Anonymous Data, you hereby grant Zoom a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license and all other rights required or necessary to enable Zoom to exercise its rights pertaining to Service Generated Data and Aggregated Anonymous Data, as the case may be, in accordance with this Agreement.
Notwithstanding the above, Zoom will not use audio, video or chat Customer Content to train our artificial intelligence models without your consent.
the red text is my emphasis, the bold disclaimer at the end is all Zoom.
So the hazard is, of course, that you can expect the content of your Zoom meetings --from M&A discussions to tele-therapy sessions -- to be roiled into that mass of interactions used to try and make some AI hallucinate a little less.
First, I want to point out that the bold-type disclaimer at the end was added in the last few hours, after Zoom became the target of a social-media backlash. This backlash even extends to LinkedIn, which is usually a very sympathetic venue for the antics of late-stage-capitalism.
Second, just watch how fluid the allocations will be, from "Customer Content" into "Service Generated Data", of pretty much anything Zoom wants to use to train its AI.
Finally, you'll definitely see attempts by Zoom with various dark patterns to manufacture all the consent it needs to render that hastily-added disclaimer utterly moot. You may even have to click on a few yourself, when it's either that, or miss a client meeting.