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ACCC corrects its video conferencing Critical Services Report

Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Webex removed after vendors said they had servers in Australia.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Woman wearing wireless headset video conference calling on laptop
Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reissued its Critical Services Report that was released on July 8, following uproar from vendors about the consumer watchdog saying they used foreign servers for Australian customers.

The ACCC had pointed out that Google Meet, Skype, and Microsoft Teams all had lower latency than Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Webex, which the ACCC had pinned on the latter trio for making use of servers overseas.

After publication, Zoom and Cisco contested the findings, with both stating they had data centres in Australia.

"Zoom and Cisco advised us that in addition to hosting video conferences on servers based overseas, they do host some video conferences on servers based in Australia, depending on the amount of traffic at any given time," the ACCC said in a correction issued on Friday afternoon.

"It is not known how much traffic is off-loaded onto international servers."

The ACCC said its report was based on free accounts with the services.

"Whether a video conference is hosted from a domestic or international server can depend on such factors as where the account is created, whether it is a basic or premium (paid) account, and the overall demand at the time," it said.

The original ACCC report used over 850 samples for Zoom and Webex in its report.

The last week of July 2020 has not been a banner week for the ACCC.

On Monday, the watchdog announced it was filing legal action against Google for allegedly misleading Australian consumers when it started combining users' Google profile data with their activity on websites that used DoubleClick to display ads.

In doing so, the ACCC used an example that Google corrected.

"An earlier version of this media release used a hypothetical example that suggested that Google used information about users' health to personalise or target advertisements," a notice now reads.

"Google says that it does not show personalised ads based on health information. This example has been removed."

By Thursday, the Federal Court dismissed its appeal against a judgment that found TPG did not make misleading representations about its prepayment protocols.

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