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Zoom Agrees To $85 Million Settlement Over Failure to Protect Users' Privacy

SAN JOSE (CBS SF/BCN) -- The company behind the video conferencing software Zoom is expected to settle a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit over "zoombombing" and other lapses in privacy protections this week.

Zoom Video Communications Inc. will pay $85 million to settle a class action lawsuit that alleged Zoom failed to protect users' privacy, attorneys for the plaintiffs said.

The settlement is pending approval by a judge, with a motion for preliminary approval filed on Monday in federal court in San Jose, the attorneys said.

The suit against the San Jose-based videoconferencing company was first filed in March 2020 and included a dozen plaintiffs who alleged that Zoom failed to provide end-to-end encryption of meetings, improperly shared users' information, and left users exposed to "zoombombing," which is when unauthorized third parties join a video conference with the intent to disrupt.

In addition to paying $85 million in cash compensations, the settlement also calls for Zoom to implement comprehensive reforms to its service, including giving meeting hosts more access and control over who can join their meetings, and developing a better tracking system of users and reports of meeting disruptions, among other reforms.

The plaintiffs are being represented by the law firms Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy and Ahdoot and Wolfson.

"Millions of Americans continue to use Zoom's platform with the expectation that their conversations will be kept private and secure. If approved by the court, this groundbreaking settlement will provide a substantial cash recovery to Zoom users and implement privacy practices that, going forward, will help ensure that users are safe and protected," attorney Mark Molumphy with Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy said in a statement.

"The privacy and security of our users are top priorities for Zoom, and we take seriously the trust our users place in us. We are proud of the advancements we have made to our platform and look forward to continuing to innovate with the privacy and security at the forefront," Zoom said in response to the settlement proposal.

In May 2020, two of the plaintiffs, Saint Paulus Lutheran Church in San Francisco and its administrator Heddi Cundle, alleged that during a class held via Zoom, a hacker hijacked students' computer screens, disabled their control buttons and played pornographic videos depicting both adults and children, causing Cundle and others to be "traumatized and deeply disturbed," according to the lawsuit.

At the time, Zoom said it was "deeply upset" over the "zoombombing" and that it had since identified the offender, blocked their access to the platform and reported them to authorities.

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