Zoom Mostly Defeats Lawsuit Over User Data Privacy, Zoombombing

Zoom Video Communications Inc. defeated the most serious claims in a lawsuit claiming it illegally shared users’ personal information with Google and Facebook.

“It is unclear if Zoom has shared, let alone sold, any of plaintiffs’ data,” U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, said in her ruling late Thursday.

The lawsuit alleged that even if users don’t have a Facebook account, Zoom shared with the social media company an array of information, “allowing Facebook to conduct near-perfect, detailed surveillance of individual lives.” The plaintiffs claimed that Zoom revealed their activities, including the nature of meetings and identities of participants, while the company argued the information at issue is “non-sensitive technical device data.”

Koh also largely threw out users’ complaints about unauthorized intruders hijacking Zoom meetings to display pornography, graphic violence, or racist language -- dubbed Zoombombing. She accepted Zoom’s argument that under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides broad protection for internet platforms, the company can’t be held liable for content presented by third parties.

“Appalling as this content is,” Congress has immunized internet companies from liability for failing to edit or block user-generated content, Koh wrote in her ruling. “The bulk of plaintiffs’ Zoombombing claims lie against the ‘Zoombombers’ who shared heinous content, not Zoom itself.”

The judge allowed the users to pursue their claims that Zoom breached its contract with them, and gave the plaintiffs permission to revise and refile many of the allegations in the suit that she dismissed.

Zoom shares have skyrocketed in the last year, reflecting the demand it has seen as people work, learn and socialize on their computers. The stock has become a barometer of the pandemic economy, rising when Covid-19 lockdowns emerge and falling on good news about vaccines.

The case is In Re Zoom Video Communications Inc., 20-cv-02155, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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