Video conferencing giant Zoom Video Communications has agreed to pay a fine of $85 million to settle a privacy lawsuit after it has been accused of violating the privacy of users via Zoombombing incidents.
The decision comes as Zoom took part in a preliminary settlement dated Saturday, July 31, 2021, reports NPR.
According to Tech Crunch, Zoombombing practices refer to hackers and other malicious threat actors dropping by private Zoom calls and sharing inappropriate and offensive images such as pornography, racial slurs and profanities, hateful messages, and other disturbing content.
Zoombombing is a term coined by Tech Crunch last 2020 as more incidents and malicious actors were disrupting Zoom calls with these offensive messages and imageries. It has reportedly given rise to other approaches such as spamming chats with GIFs, using backgrounds to spread hate, and the like.
Following the series of incidents, the video conferencing platform has been accused of violating the privacy rights of users after sharing their personal data with third parties such as Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn, notes Reuters.
The lawsuit has been filed last March 2020 with the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, said Tech Crunch.
While the company earned $1.3 billion from its subscriptions, Reuters reveals that the subscribers’ lawyers deemed the $85 million settlement more than reasonable. The lawyers handling the said case will also intend to have their legal fees covered for up to $21.25 million.
Reuters states that the preliminary settlement filed last Saturday still requires the approval of Lucy Koh, a United States District Judge in San Jose, California.
Should Koh sign off of the settlement, subscribers are slated to receive around 15% in refunds from their subscriptions or $25, whichever is higher. Meanwhile, individuals who have not subscribed are still eligible to claim $15, maintains NPR.
Despite agreeing to settle, the video conferencing giant still denies the allegations. In a statement to NPR, a Zoom spokesperson said, “The privacy and security of our users are top priorities for Zoom, and we take seriously the trust our users place in us.”
“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,” continued the company spokesperson.
Following this, Tech Crunch states that it will further heighten its security measures to prevent similar Zoombombing events from happening again. These include immediately notifying users when hosts or other members use third-party applications, as well as training its employees to handle data and privacy matters.