A California church is suing Zoom after a recent Bible study class it was conducting was “zoombombed” with pornographic images.
Saint Paulus Lutheran Church, one of San Francisco’s oldest churches, filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the teleconferencing giant Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California.
According to USAToday, the complaint filed on behalf of the church and Heddi N. Cundle, a church administrator, the attendees of the May 6 bible study class “had their computer screens hijacked and their control buttons disabled while being forced to watch pornographic video footages.”
The lawsuit seeks damages for Cundle, the eight class attendees and millions of Zoom users nationwide.
In an emailed statement, Zoom condemned the behavior.
“We were deeply upset to hear about this incident, and our hearts go out to those impacted by this horrific event,” the company said. “On the same day we learned of this incident, we identified the offender, took action to block their access to the platform and reported them to the relevant authorities.”
The San Jose-based online video provider has said it was tightening the platform’s security to help prevent instances of video conferences being interrupted by Zoombombing incidents.
Some of the most notorious cases involve educational classes and local government meetings being disrupted with images of pornography and racist symbols including swastikas.
“We encourage users to report any incidents of this kind either to Zoom so we can take appropriate action or directly to law enforcement authorities,” Zoom said in a statement Thursday. “We also encourage all meeting hosts to take advantage of Zoom’s recently updated security features and follow other best practices, including making sure not to broadly share meeting IDs and passwords online, as appeared to be the case here.”
As people have stayed at home during the coronavirus pandemic, more have begun using Zoom to connect via video and audio chats for work and to catch up with family and friends.
The company says the new version of Zoom, which was released April 27, makes it harder for meetings to be Zoombombed with passwords and waiting rooms, which require passwords and a host to admit an attendee, being default settings. For educational users, screen sharing will default to the host only.
But some of the new features were already in place when the bible study class was Zoombombed on May 6 by someone who “has been reported multiple times to the authorities,” the suit alleges.
After ending the class, Cundle reached out to Zoom and “demanded action to rectify the situation and to improve security for future videoconferences. But Zoom did nothing.”