Zoom updated its terms of service to give the platform the right to use some customer data for training its AI models. Should customers enable Zoom's generative AI features, they'll have to sign a consent form to train models with customer content.

However, Zoom said that it will not use audio, video or chat content for training models without consent.

These new terms are outlined in a blog post and it's likely that other tech providers may have similar efforts in the future. The trade-off will be sharing your data vs. generative AI pricing.

In the post, Zoom noted the following:

  • Service generated data--telemetry and diagnostic data--is Zoom's data and can be used to train models to improve the experience.
  • Meeting recordings are owned by the customer and Zoom has a license to it to deliver the service.
  • Zoom's new generative AI features--Zoom IQ Meeting Summary and Zoom IQ Team Chat Compose--are currently a free trial. Zoom account owners’ control whether to enable those features, but if they do user content will be used to train AI models. No third-party model training will be allowed.

Constellation Research analyst Dion Hinchcliffe said:

"Zoom certainly touched upon a major nerve of marketplace fears when its recently updated Terms of Service granted it an essentially unlimited license to all user content (video, audio, text) that passes through its platform. The license is for a litany of uses, ranging from product improvement to training its generative artificial intelligence models. The big concern of course, is that customer IP and people's private information will get stored in such models, where it could be misused. There are also all sorts of very thorny issues with regulatory regimes like HIPAA that are implicated and likely violated by these license clauses as well.

For its part, Zoom has tried to clarify what it actually does with its license, both in a blog post and in boldface in the new terms of service. Essentially that the company does not apparently use this license without prior consent from the user within the app, Yet the terms of servce still grants Zoom the license regardless. Given the major uproar this change in terms has caused, this is going to be a widely watched test case -- and there will no doubt be others -- that will pave the early path for how vendors and the market negotiate this very sensitive subject. The view from this analyst at least, is that vendors should go out of their way to take the high road with customer data. Those that don't establish and maintain very high levels trust with customers regarding their data will not enjoy the fruits of the coming AI revolution."

A few quick thoughts:

  • Zoom's terms are likely to cause a kerfuffle today, but over time they'll be standard.
  • AI model training and data sharing may lead to discounts as both vendors and customers weigh cost vs. the value of data.
  • While collaboration is the theme with Zoom's terms, this data vs. licensing cost will become more interesting with more mission critical data from CRM and ERP systems.
  • Zoom’s terms will be more of an enterprise issue. Small business customers may not care. On an individual basis we’re all used to being the product (Facebook is exhibit A).
  • It's likely vendors are going to wait and see how customers react to Zoom's terms before doing anything similar.