Schools are quiet, so students still have to study. But officials in New York City state that schools are not authorized to use Zoom for remote instruction, raising security issues with the video conferencing program.
“Providing a safe and secure remote learning experience for our students is essential, and upon further review of security concerns, schools should move away from using Zoom as soon as possible,” said Danielle Filson, a spokesperson for the New York City Dept. of Education. “There are many new components to remote learning, and we are making real-time decisions in the best interest of our staff and students.”
Instead, the City Department of Education is moving schools to Microsoft Teams, which the spokeswoman said has the “same features and sufficient security protections in place.” The ban would affect about 1.1 million kids in more than 1,800 schools throughout the city’s five boroughs.
The decision to withdraw Zoom from schools was taken in part by the Cyber Command of New York City, which opened in 2018 to help keep the city’s people safe.
Zoom did not comment at the time of release, but the Chief Marketing Officer of Zoom, Janine Pelosi, later told TechCrunch that the organization was in “continued conversation” with the city “on how Zoom could work at this period.”
Reports of the ban came amid a surge of criticism of the company’s security policy and privacy standards, when hundreds of millions of users have been forced to operate from home on the video conference site during the pandemic.
On Friday, Zoom’s Chief Executive apologised for “mistaking” any of the calls from China, after analysts said the system would put allegedly encrypted communications at risk of detection by the Chinese authorities. Zoom also apologised for saying that his service had been authenticated on an end-to-end system when it was not.
Zoom recently updated its default settings to allow video call encryption by default following a surge of “Zoombombing” attacks that saw insecure calls disrupted by trolls and used to broadcast offensive content.
Not all schools are known to consider the transfer quick. As Chalkbeat first reported, Zoom soon became the famous video call service of choice after City Schools closed on March 16. Yet one of Brooklyn’s school administrators warned the newspaper that moving away from Zoom would make it more difficult for them to teach their students online, noting Microsoft’s “clunkiness” software.
The city spokesperson says that “several weeks” have been spent educating students on Microsoft Teams,
But the spokeswoman would not rule out a potential return to Zoom, adding that the City “continues to study and track progress with Zoom” and will update the students on any improvements.