Singapore allows schools to resume Zoom use for home-based learning

Country's education ministry is lifting its earlier ban and allowing schools to resume the use of Zoom, but teachers will be required to follow new security measures and some of the app's features will be turned off.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singaporean schools have been permitted to resume their use of Zoom to facilitate home-based learning, but the tool has been altered to have added controls in place and some features turned off. 

The government had previously banned the use of Zoom following various security breaches involving the video conferencing tool. 

The Ministry of Education on Monday said it had put in place enhanced security protocols, including centrally managing default security settings on Zoom and consolidating security settings to a single button so these could be more easily activated.

All schools began home-based learning last week after stricter measures were enforced in the city-state as part of efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The use of Zoom to carry out lessons, however, was quickly suspended after two reported incidents of Zoom-bombing within virtual classrooms. In one such breach, male strangers hijacked a lesson to broadcast obscene images and asked female students to expose themselves. 

The incidents prompted the education ministry to ban schools from using the video conference tool whilst it looked into the breaches. The ministry's divisional director of educational technology, Aaron Loh, told local media at the time that teachers had been instructed on the security protocols when using video conferencing tools, such as using secure logins and sharing meeting URLs only with students. 

Added security measures have since been put in place to allow teachers to "progressively" resume their use of Zoom to conduct their home-based lessons. Apart from consolidating security settings on the video conferencing tool into a single security button, teachers will be restricted to certain features and unable to access others, such as screen annotation, screen-sharing, and whiteboard.

In addition, teachers will have to sign off and acknowledge that they are aware of the security protocols and will adhere to the enhanced security settings, before they can carry out live lessons on Zoom. 

The education ministry will also be centrally managing teachers' default security settings on the platform, it said. 

It added that features would be re-activated in the future if security concerns were resolved and users become more familiar with the added security measures.

Taiwan's government agencies last week were also told to not use Zoom over security and privacy concerns, after other organisations banned the use of the platform, including SpaceX, Google, and schools in New York City. 

On its part, Zoom has acknowledged falling short and has since halted development work on new features until security and privacy issues are resolved. 


Editorial standards