Video conferencing giant Zoom to pay $85 million to settle a lawsuit over data sharing, security and ‘zoombombing’ issues
Zoom Video Communications has entered into a preliminary lawsuit settlement this past weekend, in which it agreed to pay $85 million.
It was back in early 2020, when Zoom was sued for failing to disclose that its service was not end-to-end encrypted. The lawsuit also alleged that Zoom shared user data with Facebook and others, including the nature of meetings and participants’ identities, allowing the social media firm to “conduct near-perfect, detailed surveillance of individual lives”.
Usage of Zoom spiked during the Coronavirus pandemic, and even governments around the world began to use the app to hold remote meetings.
But Zoom was criticised over the lack of end-to-end encryption of meeting sessions, as well as routing of traffic through China.
There was also criticism of “zoombombing”, where uninvited guests crashed meetings.
In March this year US district judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California dismissed the most serious claims against Zoom.
She ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that Zoom shared or sold their data without permission to third parties such as Facebook, Google and LinkedIn, saying the company at best “disclosed certain other people’s data, not necessarily plaintiffs’ data”.
Koh also ruled that Zoom was “mostly” immune from prosecution for “Zoombombing”, or malicious intrusions into online video meetings, under Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act.
The provision shields online companies from liability for user-generated content they facilitate.
The judge at the time stated that users could pursue claims that Zoom breached its contract with them and gave permission to revise and refile their allegations.
The plaintiffs want to force Zoom to improve its security and to claim damages for past privacy violations.
Now according to CNN, Zoom has agreed to more than a dozen “major changes to its practices, designed to improve meeting security, bolster privacy disclosures, and safeguard consumer data,” according to the settlement documents.
These changes are expected to include “in-meeting notifications to make it easier for users to understand who can see, save, and share Zoom users’ information” and “alerting users when a meeting host or another participant uses a third-party application during a meeting.”
“The privacy and security of our users are top priorities for Zoom, and we take seriously the trust our users place in us,” a Zoom spokesperson told CNN Business. “We are proud of the advancements we have made to our platform, and look forward to continuing to innovate with privacy and security at the forefront.”
The settlement also allows for paid subscribers in the class action lawsuit to be eligible for 15 percent refunds on their Zoom core subscriptions, or $25 – whichever amount is larger – and other Zoom users could be eligible for up to $15, according to the settlement.
Zoom collected approximately $1.3 billion in subscriptions from the class action participants who paid for a subscription, according to settlement documents.
The deal requires approval from Judge Lucy Koh, in order for it to be finalised.