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Zoom users who used the software between 30 March 2016 and 30 July 2021 are eligible to participate in a class action lawsuit against the video communication company. Zoom will likely be settling for $85 million, though this is yet to be determined by the court. According to those who filed the lawsuit, this is in regards to Zoom sharing personal information to sites like Facebook which has made incidents like “Zoombombing” possible. The lawsuit was filed on Monday.
According to Vice, Zoom users are eligible for $25 or 15% of the money paid for Zoom’s core subscription service (this doesn’t include any other add-ons that customers may have added to their subscriptions), whichever amount is greater. Those who did not purchase a subscription will be eligible for $15.
Why is the money being doled out? Zoom has been accused of sharing user information with third parties, falsely advertising the extent to which encryption is used for protection on the software, and for not doing enough to prevent unwanted disruptions like Zoombombings. Emails have been sent out to eligible Zoom users in order to explain how they might apply to get the money. How this might be done includes submitting a claim to ZoomMeetingsClassAction.com or sending a paper form by 5 March 2022.
It should be noted that the $85 million settlement will not all go to the payment of valid user claims, as the software company will first need to deduct attorney’s fees, expenses, and notice and administration costs. This may equate to more than $21,450,000.
Though Zoom ultimately removed the codes that spread out user information, Motherboard found that the app transferred its user data to Facebook even if the user didn’t have an account for the social media site. USA Today describes other improvements to the platform from July 2020, including stronger encryption and adjusted settings that would allow users to require a passcode or link in order to enter a meeting. This has been set as the platform’s default option.
A Zoom spokesperson eventually reached out through email to clarify the prioritization of user privacy and security, claiming that there are more plans to innovate the platform in order to maintain user privacy, security, and trust.
However, Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan, defended the company last year when he wrote in a blog post, “The sudden and increased demand on our systems was unlike anything most companies have ever experienced.”
According to PR Newswire, just because Zoom has entered settlement does not mean that the company has admitted liability. It looks like this may have been done in order to avoid further risk and expenses. Further, the court has not yet made a decision regarding who is correct in the lawsuit.
The Berkshire Eagle describes the beginning of the lawsuit, going into the situation which resulted in the lawsuit being filed. The article is describing the initial parts of the investigation through the police after the Berkshire Hills Regional School District School Committee meeting was met with visual pornography. Additionally, one of the Zoombombers targeted one of the female committee members and called her “hot.”
Reportedly, after quickly moving on to the next portion of the meeting, the recorded meeting and police report were filed by Community Television for the Southern Berkshires. During the meeting, a new window popped up on the screen, as well as two narrator-like voices. The screen displayed a naked man doing a sort of performance, and it appeared additionally that he was masturbating.
The committee is considering switching to a webinar mode but complains that this only makes it more difficult to get the community involved online, explaining that moving to having meetings online made participation more difficult to come by overall.