New York – New York public schools have decided to stop their teachers from using the popular Zoom video conferencing app to teach remotely due to their security and privacy issues.
As the mayor, Bill de Blasio, explained on Monday, the municipal Department of Education has been trying to work with the company to respond to these questions, but it “has not cooperated.”
“We are not going to put the privacy and data of our students at risk. It is as simple as that,” de Blasio said during a press conference.RELATED
“We would all like to use that tool, but only if we can do it safely,” the mayor insisted.
For now, the Department of Education plans to switch to using Microsoft Teams for remote classes.
New York’s public education system is the largest in the entire United States and has more than a million students, who are currently studying remotely due to the closure of schools decreed to stop the expansion of the coronavirus.
Zoom has seen its popularity soar in recent weeks amid restrictions imposed worldwide to combat the disease, which have multiplied teleworking and distance learning.
In parallel, more and more voices have denounced the security and privacy problems of the application, especially the possibility that Internet users who have not been invited appear by surprise in teleconferences, a phenomenon baptized as “zoombombing”.
Earlier this week, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned that the increase in digital conferences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by another phenomenon: the unwanted irruption of hackers in these online meetings.
Hackers gain access without permission to digital meetings of companies, educational centers or even government agencies, and, in addition to violating the privacy of the participants and accessing the information being processed, in some cases they interrupt them with obscene language and even threats .
The FBI cited two specific examples that occurred in recent days, both in the Boston area and both related to the educational world, in which practically all classes in the country have been suspended and in many cases replaced by online lessons.
In the first case, a teacher was teaching his high school students through Zoom when an individual joined the conference uninvited, uttered an insult, and loudly announced the teacher’s mailing address.
In the other case, another individual joined a digital class and showed Nazi-like swastika tattoos on camera.
On the other hand, on Thursday it was learned that a man gained access to an online class at a central Florida public school and showed his private parts to students.
In response, Zoom announced that it will set the “waiting room” as a default option, a tool that allows the person who is hosting the virtual meeting to accept one by one each new person who wants to participate in the video call, which that would avoid cases of “zoombombing”.