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Zoom Beats Lawsuit Over User Data Privacy & Zoombombing

Anyone who worked or studied from home over the course of COVID-19 pandemic 🦠 likely had to use Zoom for meetings. The video conferencing app became the default social platform for millions of people looking to connect with friends, family, colleagues, and students while practicing social distancing. 

But internet trolls are also under quarantine, 😷 and public Zoom calls quickly became a target for “Zoombombing” pranks. Trolls enter public video conferences and use Zoom’s screen-sharing feature to project graphic content to participants, forcing hosts to shut down their meetings. 

It wasn’t long before Zoom was hit with lawsuits for covering up numerous security and privacy issues. Not only was Zoom sued for the poor security that led to Zoombombing; it also allegedly violated users’ privacy by sharing personal information with Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Here’s what we know about the Zoom lawsuit that a California judge recently dismissed. 🏃‍♂️

What Was the Zoom Lawsuit About?

The class-action lawsuit filed in California last year accused Zoom of several wrongdoings, including invasion of privacy, negligence, and violations of California’s consumer and anti-hacking laws. It claimed the company deliberately covered up security and privacy issues. These issues were made public at the beginning of March. 

Zoom reportedly allowed Facebook and LinkedIn to “eavesdrop” 👂 on video calls under certain circumstances. If a meeting host had LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator app installed, they could view participants’ LinkedIn profile information even if they hadn’t given the host access. Facebook allegedly had undisclosed access to personal information of any iOS users in the conference, even if those users didn’t have a Facebook account. 

The platform also allegedly misrepresented the use of end-to-end encryption measures to secure video meetings. It purportedly used the term “end-to-end” to describe its features in marketing materials until March last year. The company clarified in a blog post published April 1 that user data is not encrypted 📲 if any participant in a conference wasn’t using the official Zoom app. 

Zoom is additionally being sued for Zoombombing pranks. One church in California sued the platform after a bible study class was bombed with porn. 🔞 The suit sought damages for the church administrator, eight attendees, and millions of Zoom users around the world. 

Why Was the Zoom Lawsuit Thrown Out?

The primary focus of the lawsuit was the security violations. In one example, the suit claimed that even if users don’t have a Facebook account, Zoom still shared an array of information with the social media platform. It essentially allowed “Facebook to conduct near-perfect, detailed surveillance of individual lives.” Zoom reportedly revealed user activities to Facebook, including the nature of meetings and identities of participants. 🕵️

Zoom argued the information it shared is “non-sensitive technical data.” The judge handling the case agreed and said the plaintiffs couldn’t prove the company shared or sold their data without consent. At best, the San Jose-based company “disclosed certain other people’s data, not necessarily [the plaintiffs’] data,” according to the ruling. 

“It is unclear if Zoom has shared, let alone sold, any of plaintiffs’ data,” U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, said U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, in her ruling late Thursday

What About Zoombombing?

Koh also threw out the claims of negligence over Zoombombing. She said Zoom is “mostly” immune from liability thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online platforms from being held liable for content presented by third parties. In this case, the Zoombombers who hijacked meetings to display graphic violence 🗡️, pornography, or racist language are considered outsiders. 

“Appalling as this content is, Congress has immunized internet companies from liability for failing to edit or block user-generated content,” Koh wrote in her ruling. “The bulk of plaintiffs’ Zoombombing claims lie against the ‘Zoombombers’ who shared heinous content, not Zoom itself.” 

The plaintiffs want to hold Zoom accountable. They wanted the platform to improve its security practices 🔐 and pay damages for past privacy violations. While Koh dismissed most of the claims, she gave the users permission to revise and refile many of them. 

What’s Next for Zoom?

Zoom isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Everyone knows about the platform now: parents, co-workers, friends, and even grandparents. 👵 The company’s share price has more than tripled since the pandemic started in early 2020, reflecting the demand it experienced as people work, socialize, and learn on their computers. 

People use the service to do everything from safely participating in social clubs to even hosting weddings. 💒 The app’s biggest selling point is its ease of use—people don’t need to login to participate in a meeting, and the user interface is pretty intuitive. 

All that said, the pros of Zoom don’t make it immune from security and privacy violations. If you feel your privacy was violated by the platform, then perhaps you should consult a social media attorney