Zoom AI tools trained using some customer data, updated terms say

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Zoom wants to train its artificial intelligence models using some of your data, according to recently updated terms of service.

The latest update to the video platform’s terms of service front-loads sections on software licensing, beta services and compliance, but if you read past that, the fine print seems to reveal a key decision in Zoom’s AI strategy. The update, effective as of July 27, establishes Zoom’s right to utilize some aspects of customer data for training and tuning its AI, or machine-learning models.

The “service-generated data” that Zoom can now use to train its AI includes customer information on product usage, telemetry and diagnostic data and similar content or data collected by the company. It does not provide an opt-out option.

This isn’t an uncommon data category for companies to use for these purposes, but the new terms are a measured step toward Zoom’s own AI ambitions.

The update comes amid growing public debate on the extent to which AI services should be trained on individuals’ data, no matter how aggregated or anonymized it’s said to be. Chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Bing, along with image-generation tools like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, are trained on swaths of internet text or images. Across the generative AI sector, lawsuits have popped up in recent months from authors or artists who say they see their own work reflected in AI tools’ outputs.

“You consent to Zoom’s access, use, collection, creation, modification, distribution, processing, sharing, maintenance, and storage of Service Generated Data for any purpose, to the extent and in the manner permitted under applicable Law, including for the purpose of … machine learning or artificial intelligence (including for the purposes of training and tuning of algorithms and models),” Zoom’s terms state.

Customer content such as messages, files and documents do not seem to be included in this category. In a follow-up blog post, Zoom clarified that “for AI, we do not use audio, video or chat content for training our models without customer consent.” The key phrase is “without customer consent.”

In June, Zoom introduced two new generative AI features — a meeting summary tool and a tool for composing chat messages — on a free trial basis for customers, who can decide whether or not to use them. But when a user does enable these features, Zoom has them sign a consent form allowing Zoom to train its AI models using their individual customer content.

“Your content is used solely to improve the performance and accuracy of these AI services,” Zoom wrote in the blog post.

A company spokesperson said in a statement that “Zoom customers decide whether to enable generative AI features, and separately whether to share customer content with Zoom for product improvement purposes.”

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