Zoom Video Communications will pay an $85 million settlement after a lawsuit was filed alleging misrepresentations and broken promises regarding customers’ privacy and security. According to a news report, the major lawsuit alleged that Zoom shared private user information through a third-party integration with social media companies, including Facebook and LinkedIn. It also blames the company for enabling “Zoombombing” incidents. Zoom became the single most popular platform for teleconferencing during the coronavirus pandemic. It has not accepted any wrongdoing but has now agreed to the significant settlement.
What the Settlement Means
In addition to the privacy violation claims, the lawsuits also allege that Zoom violated security promises related to so-called “Zoombombings” by hackers who disrupted by logging into meetings they were not invited to. Zoom agreed to the preliminary deal in 14 consolidated class action complaints filed in state and federal courts. Zoom did not admit wrongdoing. The settlement, which needs approval from a judge, requires Zoom to make changes to improve its meeting security, bolster privacy disclosures, and better secure consumer data.
Under the settlement, class members who paid for an account would receive 15% of the money they paid to the platform for their core Zoom meetings subscription or $25, whichever is greater. Other users could claim $15. Depending on claim volume and other expenses, the amounts could be more or less. This settlement applies to those who used Zoom from March 30, 2016, to the settlement date.
In March, a judge presiding over the case in California ruled that Zoom is protected from many of the Zoombombing claims by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects companies from liability for content posted by others. While Zoom cannot be sued for failing to moderate harmful and objectionable Zoombombing content, the judge ruled that it can be sued for breaching contractual security duties regarding the content.
Holding Corporations Accountable
This is, without question, a significant class action settlement because it holds the corporation (in this case, Zoom) accountable for failing to protect the privacy of its customers. But it also ensures that the company puts safeguards in place to prevent such violations of consumers’ privacy. This is one of the most critical roles of class action lawsuits.
While it might not have been worthwhile for every individual customer to file a lawsuit against Zoom for minor monetary losses, it was possible for thousands of consumers who were affected by the same problem and band together as a class to hold a large corporation accountable.