Paid Zoom users between March 2016 and July 2021 eligible for US$25 class-action settlement, free users US$15
The usage of video conferencing apps such as Zoom skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside this new-found popularity, Zoom was also mired in controversy over alleged privacy and security loopholes.
In a class-action lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that Zoom shared user information with third parties via SDKs and marketplace apps in an unauthorized manner violating both California and federal laws. The more serious of those allegations was "Zoom-bombing", meaning the platform allowed uninvited guests to join meetings not intended for them. Zoom-bombing posed a security nightmare, particularly in meetings involving children that risked infiltration by unscrupulous users sharing inappropriate and disturbing content.
Zoom denied all these allegations in the lawsuit and said that it does not accept liabilities for claims by the plaintiffs. However, it did agree to settle the case outside of court for US$85 million.
The settlement includes all US citizens who have downloaded, opened, or used the Zoom app between March 30, 2016 and July 30, 2021. Class members who paid for Zoom subscriptions can claim 15% of the money paid to Zoom or US$25. In an email sent to those eligible for the compensation, the plaintiffs said,
If you are a Class Member who paid for a Zoom Meetings App subscription, between March 30, 2016 and July 30, 2021, you are eligible to file a claim for $25 or 15% of the money you paid to Zoom for the core subscription (i.e., not including optional add on features/support that customers may add to their subscriptions) during that time, whichever is greater. For example, if you spent $75 on a Zoom Meetings App subscription during the relevant time period, 15% of $75 is $11.25. Because $11.25 is less than $25, your claim will be treated as a claim for $25."
Free users of the software who have not availed a paid subscription can claim US$15. This settlement is not applicable to Enterprise-level or Government accounts. Eligible users can file their claims at ZoomMeetingsClassAction.com or send a paper form.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom quickly became the de facto platform for all kinds of collaboration from school classes to corporate meetings and court room proceedings. Between 2019 and 2021, Zoom recorded a 2,900% growth with an average of 300 million daily users.
The whole controversy started in part following a report from Motherboard that Zoom's iOS app was sending user data and notifying Facebook's Graph API each time the app was opened even when the user had no Facebook account. The data included device model, city, carrier, time zone, and the user's unique advertiser ID. Zoom later removed the code that was sending data to Facebook and said it was Facebook's SDK that was collecting "unnecessary device data".
In a statement to Motherboard, a Zoom spokesperson said,
The privacy and security of our users are top priorities for Zoom, and we take seriously the trust our users place in us. We are proud of the advancements we have made to our platform, and look forward to continuing to innovate with privacy and security at the forefront."
The deadline to either file the claim or exclude yourself is March 5, 2022 while the final approval hearing for the settlement is scheduled for April 7, 2022.