Read the full article by Gene Zorkin at YNOT.com

 

In the short few weeks since large portions of the country and the world began practicing social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of Zoom as a videoconferencing solution has been swift and broad.

Across the educational, private and corporate sectors, including among many adult companies, Zoom use and traffic have soared (along with those of Cisco’s WebEx, which has received less attention than Zoom, possibly because its brand name isn’t quite as catchy). For Zoom, the surge in use has been accompanied by certain benefits – as well as increasing scrutiny.

On the plus side, from Zoom’s perspective, was an announcement issued by the Federal Communications Commission last Friday, in which the FCC announced it has issued a “temporary waiver of its access arbitrage rules” to Inteliquent, a telecommunications company that carries traffic for both Zoom and WebEx.

In the announcement, the FCC said that without the waiver, “the massive increase in conference calls made by American consumers using Zoom and WebEx to work and attend classes from home during the COVID-19 pandemic would likely result in Inteliquent being deemed an ‘access-stimulating’ carrier” under the FCC’s rules. That designation would “trigger financial responsibilities—namely significant cost increases—for Inteliquent that would impede its ability to serve these conference calling companies.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that the FCC’s access-stimulating carrier rules were designed to target “companies that have been exploiting our intercarrier compensation system by generating inflated call volumes to pad their bottom lines” and “weren’t intended to ensnare companies that, during a national emergency, are experiencing unprecedented call volumes that would push them out of compliance without a waiver.”

Since Inteliquent doubtlessly would have passed those cost increases along to the two customers primarily responsible for its increased usage, the FCC’s waiver was a welcome development for Zoom and Cisco, as well.

On the increased scrutiny side of the ledger, Zoom has quickly found itself under fire from privacy advocates, who are taking the company to task over allegedly falsely claiming their video calls offer “end to end” encryption. Other reports assert that Zoom is “leaking peoples’ email addresses and photos to strangers,” as Motherboard put it.