Fight for the Future and 27 other human rights organizations have wrote a letter asking Zoom to stop developing emotion tracking software.
Emotion tracking software uses an AI to analyze a person’s face during a video call to track their emotional and facial responses. The letter calls this software “…invasive technology… [and] a violation of privacy and human rights.”
Fight for the future touches on five main points why it and the other organizations are concerned. They claim it is a security risk, discriminatory, manipulative, based on pseudoscience and a means of retaliation.
According to protocolOne goal of emotion tracking software is to provide data to a sales team as to whether or not their pitch is working for their customer. Knowing a customer’s “emotional state” allows a team to immediately adjust its strategy. Another goal is to monitor students’ emotional statesee how engaged they are and use that data for better online classes.
The groups are concerned about bad actors and even government organizations can steal the data obtained with this technology to track people. From there, the technology could be used to discriminate against people from certain groups. Fight for the Future even compares it to face recognitionwhich has been criticized for being unreliable, unfair and invasive.
They are also concerned about companies that monitor users to manipulate them or punish them outright for expressing “bad emotions.”
And besides, this technology might not even work. A study by the Association of Psychological Sciences reveals that the face does not always reflect a person’s emotions as people can easily hide them.
The letter concludes with the groups asking Zoom to respond, stating that by May 20, 2022, it will stop developing emotion tracking.
Analysis: response from Zoom
Zoom has yet to respond to Fight for the Future, but the letter does point to instances where the company is bowing to its users. Zoom was rolled out at the end of 2020 end-to-end encryption paying users after receiving a lot of backlash for its poor security protocols. And in that same period, Zoom removed attention registration due to similar privacy issues.
While Zoom may have changed its mind in the past, the current company may not budge. It was recently launched Zoom IQ for salesa meeting add-on that provides emotional analysis and transcription of all post-meeting conversations.
For those interested, Fight for the Future has a petition page where people can sign up and support his efforts to have Zoom remove emotion tracking from its platform.