A month after banning the Zoom video conferencing technology due to privacy and security concerns, NYC Education Department officials say the company has made security upgrades and launched a specific version tailored to the public school system’s needs.
“The security of our students and staff is paramount, and we’ve worked with Zoom to create a tailored platform that provides the safety and functionality schools need to engage in remote learning. I’m happy that Zoom has addressed vulnerabilities over the last few weeks and effective immediately, our community can safely use the Department of Education licensed Zoom account for remote learning,” Schools Chancellor, Richard Carranza, said.
The city asked schools to stop using Zoom two weeks into remote learning due to concerns about privacy and security, including “Zoom-bombing,” when an uninvited student or other Zoom user takes over a meeting, often displaying inappropriate content onto the screens of other participants.
Now, schools will have to access Zoom through a central city education department domain – and while the platform will look the same, it will come with pre-set security settings in place. Participants will not be able to take control of the screen or share their screen; only hosts can invite someone to a meeting, meaning anyone forwarded a link won’t be able to join; and anyone joining will be placed in a waiting room until the host admits them, among other measures.
The city’s contract with Zoom is for an initial term of a year, the department said. Zoom has made other upgrades in the past month that allowed for the city to return to using the platform, the education department says, including better encryption and hosting data in the United States. The company has also entered into a “confidentiality and data security agreement” with the Education Department that meets student privacy requirements outlined in state and federal education laws.