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SC issues notice to govt and Zoom as petition seeks ban on video-conferencing app

The petition contends that Zoom poses a threat to privacy as it does not have end-to-end encryption, and asks for a law to fix liability if there’s a breach.

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New Delhi: A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde Friday issued a notice to the central government on a petition to ban the use of video-conferencing app Zoom, claiming it breaches privacy and violates the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The notice has also been served to Zoom, and the court will next hear the matter after four weeks.

Petitioner Harsh Chugh, who has identified herself as a homemaker and remote worker (she takes online classes using the app) has asked for an appropriate legislation that fixes liability in case of a breach.

Also read: MHA says Zoom app not safe, issues guidelines for those who still want to use it

The allegations

Chugh said Zoom poses a threat to the privacy of those using it, and as it does not have end-to-end encryption, also violates the IT Act and the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009.

“The penetration of offending software increasing with each day have pan India ramifications (sic),” reads Chugh’s petition. Being an online tutor, she asserted, she was concerned about the risk posed to her students and other users by the “offending software”.

Chugh’s petition also quotes Zoom CEO Eric Yuan’s public apology that accepted the app was “faulty” in terms of providing a secure environment digitally. This admission, Chugh contended, supports her concern over the application being against the norms of cyber security.

“There is a need for a legislation to be put in place in order to effectuate a standard regulation to safeguard the rights of citizens as has been brought to light by various leaders across the world,” the petition states.

“It is important to realise how Zoom consistently violates its duty to implement and maintain reasonable security practices, and misleads consumers about the security benefits of the product. Zoom has targeted consumers, businesses, and schools,” it says.

Chugh alleged Zoom violates privacy by misusing and exploiting personal information, and falsely, deceptively, and misleadingly advertising fictitious security benefits of the programme.

The petition also pointed out that digital hearings by some high courts have taken place on Zoom, and these could have been easily accessible by anyone and everyone. She further mentioned a public advisory issued by the Cyber Coordination Committee on how the app is “unsafe”.

Also read: Zoom to seek public feedback on app’s encryption design to address security concerns


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