Zoom being sued for allegedly sharing user data with Facebook

Zoom app logo
Zoom app logo (screenshot) IBTSingapore/Gani Waseem

Video conferencing app Zoom has been enjoying a lot of popularity following the global coronavirus pandemic. However, the app was alleged to have been sharing user data with Facebook. Now, after Zoom Video Communications clarified that it has removed a code from its iOS app that was responsible for the alleged data breach, a user has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company for allegedly disclosing personal information to third-parties like Facebook without notifying users.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in San Jose, California, on Monday, March 30, claims that Zoom failed to tell users that it gave out Facebook "and possibly other third parties" access to its users' personal information that it had collected when they installed or opened the app.

Lawsuit filed against Zoom

The plaintiff alleges that Zoom didn't safeguard the personal details of the increasing millions of users on its video conferencing platform.

"Upon installing or upon each opening of the Zoom app, Zoom collects the personal information of its users and discloses, without adequate notice or authorization, this personal information to third parties, including Facebook, Inc ("Facebook"), invading the privacy of millions of users," the suit claims.

The data allegedly includes the model of the user's phone, the time zone the user is in, and a "unique advertising identifier" which could be used to target ads to the user, according to the class-action complaint.

The complaint alleges the company's "wholly inadequate programme design and security measures have resulted, and will continue to result, in unauthorised disclosure of its users' personal information."

"Had Zoom informed its users that it would use inadequate security measures and permit unauthorized third-party tracking of their personal information, users would not have been willing to use the Zoom App," the complaint adds.

Damages sought

The plaintiff, Robert Cullen from Sacramento, California, is seeking to represent other users and asking the judge to declare the company violated California's Consumer Privacy Act. He also seeks damages from Zoom. Neither Zoom nor Facebook have commented on the matter yet.

Zoom's booming business

The lawsuit comes at a time when Zoom's business is booming thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has left millions of people with no other option but to use video conferencing services such as Zoom and Hangouts to work from home and chat with their family and friends.

Zoom, in particular, has been the most downloaded teleconferencing app on both Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store. The Silicon Valley firm's shares have more than doubled this year following the popularity, and investors bet that the company would be one of the biggest beneficiaries from the coronavirus crisis.

Zoom's security and privacy concerns

The app's new-found surge in popularity has resulted in the app attracting a lot of attention of hackers and cybercriminals. But perhaps the most recognised threat came after the service was found to be allegedly sharing user data with Facebook.

After a lot of media backlash and reports, Zoom decided to remove the Facebook code that was allegedly responsible for collecting the data. It assured Apple iPhone users that it has updated the Zoom app for iOS to now exclude the data collection tool. However, users will need to update the app to the latest version for the change to take effect.

"We sincerely apologize for the concern this has caused, and remain firmly committed to the protection of our users' privacy," Zoom said in a blog post announcing the change.

Zoom Bombing

The service is also under scrutiny for its overall privacy and cybersecurity practices, which have historically been considered allegedly "questionable" by security experts. The service is also subjected to a lot of trolls allegedly dropping into calls and sharing graphic images that has come to be called "Zoom Bombing."

Related topics : Coronavirus Cybersecurity