Zoom Video Communications will pay $85 million to settle a lawsuit claiming the company violated users’ privacy.
According to The New York Times, the lawsuit—first filed in March 2020—alleged that Zoom had shared consumer data with third-party internet services and negligently allowed “hackers” to interrupt meetings.
These interruptions, notes the New York Times, were colloquially called “Zoombombings.”
During a “Zoombombing,” an internet troll would exploit the platform’s screen-sharing feature to broadcast offensive messages or images. In other instances, trolls would simply disrupt meetings or virtual classes, blabbering racially charged slogans and hurling out insults.
Zoom, says USA Today, responded to trolls in July 2020 by improving platform encryption and requiring users to use a secure link or passcode to join meetings.
While Zoom users had always had the option to require a password to join a meeting, hosts had to manually enable a special privacy mode. After July, password protection became every user’s default setting.
Zoom suggested that the platform’s sudden popularity during the coronavirus pandemic meant the company had to scramble to improve its defenses and meet a massively increased users demand.
“The sudden and increased demand on our systems was unlike anything most companies have ever experienced,” Zoom CEO Eric Yuan wrote in a 2020 blog post.
For its part of the settlement, Zoom Video Communications has agreed to not only pay $85 million, but to offer enhanced security and privacy training to its employees. Zoom will also notify users when it when other parties in a conference call use third-party applications which may receive their data.
Furthermore, Zoom must “better educate users about the security features available to protect meeting security and privacy, through dedicated space on the Zoom website and banner-type notifications.”
The company’s website will have to include “centralized information and links for parents whose children are using school-provisioned K-12 accounts.”
Under the terms of the agreement—which must still be approved by a federal judge before it can begin taking effect—Zoom subscribers may receive a 15% refund on their primary subscriptions or $25, whichever is greater.
Other users, adds The New York Times, could see refunds of up to $15.
A-Zoom spokesperson reaffirmed that the company is and remains committed to ensuring consumer privacy and enhancing user experience.
“The privacy and security of our users are our top priorities for Zoom, and we take seriously the trust our user’s place in us,” Zoom said in a statement. “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.”
As Per the settlement, Zoom has not admitted any wrongdoing.