With the COVID-19 crisis forcing increasing numbers of schools and institutions into adopting the teleconferencing platform, Zoom, to conduct classes, the number of untoward incidents on the application is on the rise. Known as "Zoombombing" or "Zoomraiding", the growing menace of posting objectionable content on meetings by strangers is plaguing the platform. The FBI now says that it has received several reports of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) being shared during meetings.

A Rising Trend in the US and Other Countries

According to the FBI, it has received over 195 complaints from across the US and other countries where Zoom participants have broadcast CSAM featuring young children.

In a statement, the federal law enforcement agency said: "The FBI considers this activity to be a violent crime, as every time child sexual abuse material is viewed, the depicted child is re-victimized. Furthermore, anyone who inadvertently sees child sexual abuse material depicted during a virtual event is potentially a victim as well."

Child sexual abuse
Representational Picture Pixabay

Guidelines To Enable Apprehending of Violators

In order to be able to apprehend parties or individuals who create and distribute CSAM, the FBI has sought the assistance of the general public. It has issued certain guidelines to users in order to identify offenders.

  • If an individual is the host or administrator of a Zoom call/meeting where CSAM was broadcast, contact the FBI /at the earliest. In the meantime, do not destroy or delete computer logs without seeking further direction.
  • In the event of a Zoom meeting inadvertently recording any CSAM being displayed, contact and seek the FBI's assistance in order to remove the illegal content from your device.
  • If one is aware of the identity of the perpetrator committing the horrific crime, it is important to reach out to the FBI.
  • Based on the definition of CSAM, if one believes that he or she is a victim of of the crime during a meeting, again, contact the FBI to learn about your rights and legal recourse.
    Zoom app logo
    Zoom app logo (screenshot) IBTSingapore/Gani Waseem

Methods To Reduce Occurrences of Child Sexual Abuse Material Issues

In a bid to prevent and curb the occurrence of such issues, the FBI has recommended mitigatory measures.

  • Make meetings private: The FBI advises against making classrooms or meetings private and recommends the use of privacy features to secure meetings. The first being the requirement of a password, and the second being the waiting room feature. The latter provides the host or administrator to vet the users joining the meeting.
  • Share link only with attendees: Sharing of the link to a classroom or teleconference on publicly visible social media posts or other unrestricted platforms is a risk. Share links directly with specific attendees only.
  • Controlling screen sharing options: It is important to manage screen sharing options. Changing the screen sharing option to 'Host Only' can mitigate this crime to a large extent.