California judge dismisses privacy violation and ‘Zoombombing’ claims in proposed class-action lawsuit, citing immunity under federal law
A US judge has dismissed the most serious claims against Zoom Video Communications in a proposed class-action lawsuit over alleged invasion of privacy, negligence and and violations of the state’s anti-hacking law.
US district judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California said 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”.
“It is unclear if Zoom has shared, let alone sold, any of plaintiffs’ data,” Koh wrote in her decision.
The lawsuit alleged that Zoom shared user data with Facebook, including the nature of meetings and participants’ identities, allowing the social media firm to “conduct near-perfect, detailed surveillance of individual lives”.
Zoom said the information was “non-sensitive technical device data”.
Koh also said 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.
“Appalling as this content is, Zoom’s failure to edit or block user-generated content is the very activity Congress sought to immunise” under Section 230, Koh wrote.
“The bulk of plaintiffs’ Zoombombing claims lie against the ‘Zoombombers’ who shared heinous content, not Zoom itself.”
The judge said 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.
Zoom’s shares have more than tripled since the Covid-19 pandemic was officially declared a year ago, reflecting a nearly fourfold growth in usage amidst widespread shelter-in-place orders.
The case is In Re: Zoom Video Communications Inc., 20-cv-02155, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).