Ognjen Regoje bio photo

Ognjen Regoje
But you can call me Oggy

I make things that run on the web (mostly).
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Zoom doesn't deserve more chances

#ethics #product #society

Update: Feb 2021

China-Based Executive at U.S. Telecommunications Company Charged with Disrupting Video Meetings Commemorating Tiananmen Square Massacre I wonder who that could be? And what company they might work at?

The title is vastly underselling what they actually did. Quote:

Jin’s co-conspirators created fake email accounts and Company-1 accounts in the names of others, including PRC political dissidents, to fabricate evidence that the hosts of and participants in the meetings to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre were supporting terrorist organizations, inciting violence or distributing child pornography. The fabricated evidence falsely asserted that the meetings included discussions of child abuse or exploitation, terrorism, racism or incitements to violence, and sometimes included screenshots of the purported participants’ user profiles featuring, for example, a masked person holding a flag resembling that of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Any time news like this comes out about a company effectively run by the CCP I’m utterly and completely shocked! Shocked I tell you! \s

Any action by a private Chinese company must be considered to effectively be the action of the Chinese state and their interests.

Zoom is probably the biggest winner of the Corona economy. It became a household name seemingly overnight with even governments (initially) using them. As they grew, they had a few issues.

Very early into the lockdowns security and privacy issues emerged.

It was found out that they were collecting private data. Not only were they collecting data without permission but also sharing it.

There were also security issues with how access was granted to meetings resulting in porn hacks.

Following that, they made a promise to work on security and privacy and vowed to fix things.

At this point I didn’t think of them as a malicious company. Just one with teething problems. Their usage went up an order of magnitude in a short time and there were bound to be some issues. The promise sounded legitimate to me and it seemed like the right thing to do.

Shortly after that, however, it was found that their installer on Mac used techniques that are literally used by malware. They were abusing pre-installation scripts to unpack the application without ever need the user to click Install. This was quickly “fixed” and a non-apology issued. In fact, the CEO used the “others do it too excuse”.

At this point I started to become skeptical. This was not the work of someone who didn’t know what they were doing. In fact, it was the work of someone skilled. A decision had to have been made to do this and to violate the users’ choice.

Next, they vowed to have end-to-end encryption. That’s great. There’s broad consensus that that’s a good move. However, it then turned out that they were rolling it out only for paying users. At best this was a poor monetization strategy. At worst, it’s evil. At this point, I’ve written them off.

Then they banned users due to pressure from China. Par for the course so not surprising at all.

Recently they announced that they’re doing end-to-end encryption, for everyone this time. This time it’s super serial though.

Honestly, that’s enough. There’s no reason to use their services any more. They’ve shown that they don’t care at all about their users or their privacy and are ready to sell them out.

Then they closed account of U.S.-based Chinese activist “to comply with local law”.

You might say that they messed or “fell short”. The first couple of times that might have been true. But having a malware style installer isn’t messing up, coming up short or incompetence. It’s quite clever and skilled. It’s also a sign of the type of culture the company finds acceptable. To them it was perfectly acceptable to do it that way and they only backed down when they were found out. They didn’t volunteer that and fix it before it became public knowledge.

Also, their competitors have pretty much caught up so there’s much more choice now.