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Lawsuit: Video Conferencing Service Everyone Is Using Right Now Violated Privacy, Consumer Protection Laws

Zoom Founder & CEO Eric S. Yuan

Acknowledging that the use of Zoom video conferencing software “has exploded” due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that the company’s “stock price has skyrocketed, up over 115% in the last two months,” a plaintiff has filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the Zoom violated a myriad of laws by violating the privacy of its users:

Zoom . . . has failed to properly safeguard the personal information of the increasing millions of users of its software application (“Zoom App”) and video conferencing platform.  Upon installing or upon each opening of the Zoom App, Zoom collects the personal information of its users and discloses, without adequate notice or authorization, this personal information to third parties, including Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook”), invading the privacy of millions of users.

READ the document in the viewer below.

How? Despite Zoom’s assurances about trust and privacy protection contained in Zoom’s legal notices home page, the plaintiff claims the company’s software contains “wholly inadequate program design and security measures [which] have resulted, and will continue to result, in unauthorized disclosure of its users’ personal information to third parties, including Facebook.” The plaintiff also alleges that despite language in Zoom’s privacy policy that its products employ “industry-standard security technologies, procedures, and organizational measures to help protect your Personal Data from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure,” what Zoom really did was to “include[] in the Zoom App, without any adequate disclosure to users, code that made undisclosed disclosures of users’ personal information to Facebook and possibly other third parties.” In an apparent error, the lawsuit directly links to this Vice report to support its claims, but it quotes from this one.  The lawsuit suggests that any class action members who join the case “forgone using Zoom and/or chosen a different video conferencing product that did not send their personal information to Facebook, or any other third party.”

The lawsuit notes that Zoom admitted that its app was sending information to Facebook in a March 27 blog entry and that a new version of the app was rolled out that day. However, the lawsuit alleges that users with the old app “likely will continue to unknowingly send unauthorized personal information to Facebook, and perhaps other third parties.”  The plaintiff goes on to chide Zoom for failing to shut down old versions of its software and in essence allowing the issue to persist after the aforementioned report caught the issue.

In that blog post, Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan said: “We sincerely apologize for the concern this has caused, and remain firmly committed to the protection of our users’ privacy. We are reviewing our process and protocols for implementing these features in the future to ensure this does not happen again.”  Yuan is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit against Zoom alleges six causes of action:  (1) a violation of the California Consumer Protection Act; (2) a violation of California’s unfair business practices law; (3) a violation of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act; (4) common-law negligence; (5) invasion of privacy under the California Constitution; and (6) unjust enrichment.

Though the lawsuit does not name a specific dollar amount in its prayer for relief, the plaintiff elsewhere in the document states the claim is worth at least $5 million, with “actual, punitive, and statutory damages” stacking up to between $100 and $750 “per consumer per incident.”  They also seek restitution, attorneys’ fees, costs, and other relief.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Northern District of California, where Zoom is headquartered.

Zoom’s privacy practices have also come under the scrutiny of New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Cullen v. Zoom Video Commun… by Law&Crime on Scribd

[Image via Kena Betancur/Getty Images]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University.  He is the anchor and executive producer of Law&Crime Daily on the Law&Crime Network.  The broadcast is a recap of the day's most compelling trials and court proceedings.  He also serves as an editor for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only.  You should not rely on it for legal advice.  Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.  This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.  Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.