Zoom keeps listening to you even when the mic is off
Experts in online privacy have found out that Zoom, as well as the vast majority of other conferencing applications, continue accessing and recording your microphone even when you’re muted.
Kassem Fawaz, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and graduate student Yucheng Yang have carried out a study involving multiple videoconferencing apps for all major operating systems including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS to find out if they might be invading your privacy. The study has shown, that even if you mute yourself, the apps don’t give up access to your microphone and continue to gather audio data.
“It turns out, in the vast majority of cases, when you mute yourself, these apps do not give up access to the microphone. And that’s a problem. When you’re muted, people don’t expect these apps to collect data,” – said Fawaz.
Upon their findings, Fawaz and Yang, along with their colleagues from the Loyola University in Chicago have conducted a much more thorough investigation into the behavior of conferencing apps, the mute button, and how they handle your data. The study has shown that the vast majority of applications continue to gather raw audio data when the mute is on. And Zoom being the worst offender of this finding continues to gather all of the audio data, send and store it on their servers regardless of whether you are muted or not.
Using sophisticated AI technology, the researchers have also looked into whether this raw audio data allows one to identify the nature of the background noise. The study was able to successfully identify background activity in 82% of the cases. This means that the apps do indeed listen in to you, and that information could be potentially accessed and used in breach of your privacy.
Whether the information the apps collect without your knowledge is accessed or not remains unclear. However, the findings of the research already indicate a massive breach of privacy.