NYC Education Department Bans Teachers From Using Zoom Over Security Concerns

NYC Education Department Bans Teachers From Using Zoom Over Security Concerns
Zoom logo at their headquarters in San Jose, Calif., in a file photo. (Shutterstock)
Bill Pan

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) has banned teachers from using Zoom for remote teaching, citing security and privacy concerns with the video-conferencing platform.

"In the course of its credentialing process, the DOE has received various reports documenting issues that impact the security and privacy of the Zoom platform," reads a memo sent to New York City's school principals and obtained by Chalkbeat. "Based on the DOE's review of these documented concerns, the DOE will no longer permit the use of Zoom at this time."

According to the memo, educators are advised to switch to Microsoft Teams "as soon as possible," as it provides similar services, while "also providing the necessary privacy protections for our staff and students." The Microsoft platform currently supports video calls, pre-recorded meetings, sharing desktop screens, and other functions.

Google Meet, a less popular platform, will continue to be allowed for use. New York City Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza wrote on Twitter over the weekend that the DOE confirms Google's video-conferencing platform is "a safe, secure virtual meeting service for schools."
 Zoom founder Eric Yuan poses in front of the Nasdaq building. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Zoom founder Eric Yuan poses in front of the Nasdaq building. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
The FBI Boston's division issued a warning about zoom-bombing on March 30 after it received multiple reports about conferences being interrupted by pornographic or hate images and threatening language. In one example, an online class being conducted on the platform was interrupted when an unidentified individual dialed into the call and yelled profanity to the participants. The individual then shouted the teacher's home address in the call.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has sent a letter to the company, asking executives what new security measures have been put in place to handle the increased traffic as the platform becomes more popular during the CCP virus pandemic, The New York Times reported earlier this week. She added that her office is "concerned that Zoom's existing security practices might not be sufficient to adapt to the recent and sudden surge in both the volume and sensitivity of data being passed through its network."

"While Zoom has remediated specific reported security vulnerabilities, we would like to understand whether Zoom has undertaken a broader review of its security practices," James added.

Zoom has gained popularity in recent weeks as millions of Americans are required to work from home, as part of measures to control the spread of the CCP virus pandemic. According to Zoom's CEO Eric Yuan, 90,000 schools in 20 countries have relied on the platform after campuses closed and in-person classes were canceled. The company said it reached more than 200 million daily users worldwide in March, an increase from 10 million daily participants at the end of December last year.

Zoom said on Saturday that the company "updated the default settings for education users enrolled in our K–12 program to enable waiting rooms and ensure teachers are the only ones who can share content in class by default." Yuan also apologized for the zoom-bombing incidents.

"We recognize that we have fallen short of the community's—and our own—privacy and security expectations," he said.

Janita Kan contributed to this report.