Consumer Reports has analyzed the privacy policies of Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx and discovered that they may be collecting more data than many people realize.
To be clear: Consumer Reports isn’t saying that these apps are unsafe to use. (Indeed, a separate Mozilla report found that nearly every major videoconferencing app meets basic security standards.) But by agreeing to the privacy policies of these services, you are giving companies like Google and Microsoft access to plenty of personal data. According to the report, all three companies reserve the right to collect information from your calls, including how long a call lasts, who’s participating in the call, and the IP addresses of everyone taking part.
As the world has become more reliant on videoconferencing tools, people have also started to scrutinize the security measures and privacy policies of these services. And while not as alarming as the security holes in Zoom that came to light in April, leading to a host of “Zoombombing” and other concerns, it’s still worth being aware of the data that Microsoft, Google, and Cisco can collect.
None of the companies mentioned go into specific details on what kind of data is actually being collected or how it’s being used. Consumer Reports does note that the data collected here could be combined with information from other sources to create personal profiles on users and their use habits, or even potentially use videos for things like training facial recognition systems.
All three companies told Consumer Reports that they only create video recordings or transcripts when participants request them by recording the meetings and promised that the recordings aren’t “directly” used for advertising.