ACLU, human rights groups urge Zoom to drop plans for ’emotion analysis’ software

Civil rights groups are calling zoom Abandoning plans to research “emotion analysis software” that would use artificial intelligence to analyze the mood of video conference participants.

In an open letter to Zoom founder Eric Yuan on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union, digital rights nonprofit Fight for the Future, and nearly 30 other civil rights organizations called such technology discriminatory, manipulative, and “based on pseudoscience.”

“Zoom claims to care about the happiness and safety of its users, but this invasive technology says otherwise,” the letter reads, in which using AI to track human emotions is “a violation of privacy and human rights.” is called.

The memo also warned that collecting such “deeply personal data” could make customer companies a target “for snooping government agencies and malicious hackers.”

See also: Zoom Privacy Risks: The video chat app could be sharing more information than you think

It was fueled by an April 13 Minutes article that indicated the popular video communications app was actively researching integration of AI capable of reading emotional cues.

“These are information signals that can be useful; they’re not necessarily critical,” Josh Dulberger, Zoom’s head of product, data and AI, told Protocol. Dulberger envisioned using the technology to give sales reps a better understanding of how a video meeting was going, “for example, by detecting, ‘We think sentiment went down that part of the call,'” reported Protocol.

A woman on a Zoom call

According to civil rights groups, emotion-tracking software is inherently biased because it assumes that all people share the same facial expressions and body language.

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However, the groups claim the technology could be used to punish staff, students and other Zoom users for “expressing the wrong emotions,” based on the AI’s findings. It’s also inherently biased, they added, because it assumes all people use the same facial expressions, vocal patterns and body language to express themselves.

“The addition of this feature will discriminate against certain ethnic groups and people with disabilities and hardcode stereotypes into millions of devices,” the letter reads.

The group has asked Zoom to commit by May 20 not to implement emotion-tracking AI in its products.

Zoom did not immediately respond to a request for comment. ACLU, human rights groups urge Zoom to drop plans for ’emotion analysis’ software

Chris Barrese

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