House E&C Republicans Praise FTC's Zoom Settlement

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Top Energy & Commerce Committee Republicans applauded the Federal Trade Commission for requiring Zoom to boost its security practices, alleging the company was "undermining the safety of and misleading its users."

The FTC announced the settlement with the company Nov. 9 Zoom must "implement a robust information security program to settle allegations that the video conferencing provider engaged in a series of deceptive and unfair practices that undermined the security of its users.

Specifically, the FTC alleged that Zoom misrepresented its level of security of its meeting platform  by calling it "end-to-end" encryption when it wasn't, claimed meetings stored on the cloud were encrypted when they were stored up to 60 days afterwards unencrypted, and undermined an Apple Safari browser safeguard that protected from some types of malware.

During the pandemic, Zoom use has increased 30-fold, from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million in April 2020, according to the House E&C ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Consumer Protection Subcommittee ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

They called Zoom's failure to protect user data "unacceptable." They also said they were willing to work with Democrats to come up with a "much-needed" data privacy.

Both parties have agreed something needs to be done to protect consumers' data online, but agreement has been elusive over issues like whether it should be an opt-out or opt-in regime and what falls under the definition of sensitive personal information that should get heightened protections.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.