Google has banned its employees from using Zoom video conferencing service on their Google-provided machines over what it says are privacy and security concerns.
According to BuzzFeed News, the company told its employees last week that Zoom was insecure to use for official work and would be blocked by company servers starting this week.
"Recently, our security team informed employees using Zoom Desktop Client that it will no longer run on corporate computers as it does not meet our security standards for apps used by our employees," Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News.
"Employees who have been using Zoom to stay in touch with family and friends can continue to do so through a web browser or via mobile," Castaneda added.
Zoom's popularity has exploded in recent weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced millions of people to work and study from home.
The app was used by nearly 200 million people (daily) last month compared to just 10 million in December. The soaring popularity of Zoom, however, has also resulted in an increased attention on the company's security practices.
Last month, it was revealed that Zoom's app for iPads and iPhone shared users' analytics data with Facebook, without prior consent from users.
A security researcher then discovered two security vulnerabilities in the app, which could allow hackers to take over Zoom user's Mac and access the microphone and webcam on the device.
A report by The Intercept also stated that Zoom calls are not encrypted the way as the company claims.
Google is not the first company to ban its employees from using Zoom in recent days. Earlier this month, Elon Musk's owned SpaceX also told its employees not to use Zoom for official work.
Government agencies are also concerned over security issues in Zoom. Earlier this week, New York City's Department of Education urged schools to use video conferencing service from Microsoft rather than insecure Zoom app.
Interestingly, Google also offers its own Zoom competitor called Meet as part of the G-Suite apps. This video conferencing app is the business-oriented version of Google's Hangouts platform.
In other Google news, it is reported that the company is rolling out its Duplex AI calling service to three more markets, namely Australia, UK and Canada. The service was first launched in the US in 2018, and last year, Google also started to conduct a pilot test in New Zealand.
According to Google, Duplex AI technology can maintain a normal conversation with a real human being, and can be used by users to ask Google Assistant, for example, to call a restaurant and book a reservation.
The latest development currently appears to be a part of Google's effort to confirm the operating hours of businesses amid Covid-19 -related lockdown, according to some experts.
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