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Cisco Clarifies Privacy Policy for Webex Videoconferencing After CR Study

Following a Consumer Reports analysis, the company provides more details on what data is collected, and why


The tech company Cisco is making it easier to find out what personal information the company collects and how it uses it during videoconferencing calls on its Webex platform.


The changes come in response to a recent Consumer Reports evaluation of the platform’s privacy policy and terms of service. Consumer Reports also evaluated the privacy policies for Google (with Hangout, Meet, and Duo) and Microsoft (Skype and Teams).  


All the privacy policies left unanswered questions. But the companies seemed to reserve the right to access recordings of meetings for business purposes, along with details such as who was on a call. Our researchers found the documents were short on details and contained confusing language.


CR has been looking into videoconferencing services because millions of consumers have recently taken to these platforms to stay in touch during the coronavirus pandemic.


Cisco made things clearer on Monday when it linked from the Webex sign-up window to a detailed description of the platform’s data practices. The description, which Cisco calls a “privacy data sheet,” had been posted on the website before, but in an obscure spot where a user was unlikely to ever come across it. 


“It’s progress,” says Justin Brookman, director of privacy and technology policy at Consumer Reports. “The improved Cisco policy, with the more prominent placement of data sheet, does put in place some important and meaningful limitations on what they do with our data.”


Such statements are legally enforceable, Brookman says, and give organizations including Consumer Reports the information they need to do evaluations on behalf of ordinary users.


This CR evaluation of videoconferencing services by Cisco, Google, and Microsoft followed an evaluation of privacy policies for ZoomAfter that CR story appeared, Zoom tightened sections of its privacy policy and made other changes to its privacy practices.


Read the full Consumer Reports story about Cisco’s action here.


Contact: David Butler, david.butler@consumer.org, 202-579-7935 (cell)

Note: With the continued spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Consumer Reports is working to give consumers the latest information and CR advice related to the pandemic

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