Zoom Video Communications has agreed to pay $85 million in a preliminary lawsuit settlement. The lawsuit, filed in March 2020 in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California charged Zoom for sharing users’ personal data with Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn. The lawsuit totally describes this as a breach of privacy for millions of users. The agreement to make payment by Zoom also comes in response to instances of enabling “zoombombing” incidence.
Last year, the FBI issued a warning against “zoombombing,” citing examples of users entering meetings or virtual classrooms to shout profanities and share pornography. Ever since the FBI urged victims of “teleconference hijacking” to report any incidents to the agency. Zoombombing is a term coined to describe unapproved attendees entering and disrupting Zoom calls by sharing offensive imagery, using backgrounds to spread hateful messages, or spouting slurs and profanities.
Despite the video conferencing company denying wrongdoing, it has agreed to more than a dozen changes to its practice. These changes are designed to improve security practices, bolster privacy disclosures, and safeguard consumer data,” according to the settlement documents. In addition to agreeing to the settlement, paid subscribers in the class action lawsuit are eligible for a refund of either 15% of their subscription of $25 and other Zoom users could be eligible for up to $15. Zoom mentioned that it is taking additional steps to prevent intruders from gatecrashing meetings. This will include alerting users when meeting hosts or other participants use third-party apps in meetings and offering specialized training to employees on privacy and data handling.
A statement by Zoom, emphasizes that “The privacy and security of our users are top priorities for Zoom, and we take seriously the trust our user’s place in us.” The communication company also added, “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 awaits approval from US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, to be finalized. Though Zoom collected about $1.3 billion in Zoom Meetings subscriptions from class members, the plaintiffs’ lawyers called the $85 million settlement reasonable given the litigation risks. They intend to seek as much as $21.25 million for legal fees.