Church sues Zoom for hijacking Bible course

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Sarah Tew/CNET


By agencies

A church in California, US, has filed a class action lawsuit against Zoom Video Communications for failing to protect its Bible study from “zoom bombardments” with pornography.

A “known offender” hijacked the video conference by disabling other accounts, then posted disturbing pornographic videos during a Bible study on May 6.

St. Paulus of San Francisco Lutheran Church filed a lawsuit against Zoom on Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Heddi Cundle, a church administrator, and Saint Paulus Lutheran Church argue in the complaint that Zoom failed to secure the conference and gave their personal information to third parties.

“Zoom uses data mining tools to collect users’ personal information and shares it with third parties without users’ consent. Zoom allows these third parties to use this personal information to target users with advertisements,” the complaint states. “Zoom also fails to implement appropriate security measures to protect users’ privacy and secure their video meetings. As a result, “Zoombombing” by uninvited participants became frequent. »

The complaint claims that Zoom violated, among other things, the California Consumer Privacy Act, the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and the Unfair Competition Act.

“In this turbulent time of pandemic, the importance of the holiness of Saint Paul cannot be overstated,” the lawsuit added. “But Zoom – a multi-billion dollar tech giant growing exponentially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – has violated that sanctity.”

In an email response to The Christian Post regarding the complaint, a Zoom representative said:

“We were deeply shocked to learn of this incident, and our hearts go out to those affected by this horrific event. Words cannot express how strongly we condemn such behavior. this incident, we have identified the offender, taken steps to block their access to the platform, and reported it to the appropriate authorities. We encourage users to report any such incident either to Zoom so that we can take appropriate action. , or directly to law enforcement authorities. We also encourage all meeting hosts to take advantage of Zoom’s recently updated security features and follow other best practices, including being careful not to share largely online meeting IDs and passwords, as appears to be the case here.

A large number of churches have started using Zoom for worship and Bible studies in response to being forced to cancel all in-person gatherings due to coronavirus concerns.

Due to the increase in groups using Zoom, there has been an increase in the practice of zoom-bombing, in which a person or group of people hijack an online meeting and post offensive material.

For example, the Tabernacle Congregational Church in Salem, Massachusetts was bombed on April 19 during a live-streamed worship service.

A group of people walked into the ward and posted footage of a Ku Klux Klan meeting with cross burnings, and also made several racist remarks on the audio system.

Tabernacle pastor Joe Amico said The Christian Post in an interview last month that they immediately alerted the police. The church has since made changes to its online service.

“We have removed the links for our social media services and only give the links to our mailing list. We feel bad because visitors have joined our worship. Now people should contact us for the link and be controlled by how they know us,” he said at the time.

Zoom announced on Wednesday that it has made improvements to its security, including acquiring the company Keybase to improve encryption for paid accounts.

“With a recent influx of new users, we are focused on providing easy-to-use security settings for new users and existing enterprise customers to provide everyone with a smooth and highly secure experience,” the company said.

“In addition to working on our end-to-end encryption plans, we will be focusing on lobby functionality enhancements, passwords, and other ways to leverage these two features together. We are also exploring additional screen sharing controls for meeting hosts.”


Courtesy of Jhe Christian Post.

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