Zoom, a popular video conferencing company, has agreed to settle a US class-action privacy lawsuit for $85 million (£61m).
The suit claims that Zoom shared millions of its users’ personal data with Facebook, Google, and Linkedin, violating their privacy.
In addition, the claim accuses Zoom of failing to take adequate steps to prevent unauthorised users entering meetings and of misstating that it offers end-to-end encryption.
While Zoom agreed to pay the settlement and that it would boost its security practices, it also denied any wrongdoing. The company agreed to make a dozen changes to its practices, in a bid to improve security and privacy.
These will include additional security training for staff in data handling, privacy, as well as providing alerts when participants use third-party apps during a call. This aims to make it easier for users to understand who can see their data.
The preliminary settlement is still subject to final approval by the courts.
Zoom quickly made a name for itself at the start of the pandemic as the go-to video conferencing service. It enabled work meetings, remote learning, conferences, workshops, and even casual online meetups.
However, its popularity quickly led to the rise of ‘Zoombombing’ – unauthorised parties entering calls. From there, they would make inappropriate or offensive comments or posts.
The lawsuit was filed in March 2020, right at the very start of the pandemic, and was made on behalf of Zoom’s paid and free users.
“The privacy and security of our users are top priorities for Zoom, and we take seriously the trust our users place in us,” a company statement read.
“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.”
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In order to combat ‘Zoombombing’, the company introduced additional security features back in November 2020. These included an ‘emergency brake’ function, which allowed hosts to pause streams, preventing intruders from posting while action is taken.
Zoom also added a feature that could scan social media and websites to spot suspicious hashtags or instances of where Zoom links were posted publicly. Admins are then warned that their meeting may have been compromised.
To help firm up its security, Zoom purchased messaging service Keybase to add end-to-end encryption to its calls. The company aimed to roll-out the high-level encryption to all paid accounts.