The popular video communications tech company Zoom just agreed to pay out $84 million as a settlement for a class action lawsuit.
The now-settled allegations: that Zoom violated its users' privacy rights by sharing their data with major tech companies, and that it allowed bad actors to harass users through ‘Zoombombing.'
Zoom saw massive growth across 2020, and conversations about both Zoom's questionable data privacy and about zoombombing led the news during the early months of the COVID pandemic. Now, Zoom has paid $85 million to put those questions to rest.
Zoom Issues 15% Refunds
The total amount of the settlement is undeniably hefty, but the amount that each of the proposed class action's subscribers are getting will be far less impressive. They'll see either 15% refunds on their Zoom subscriptions or $25, whichever is larger. Other impacted users might receive up to $15.
That's after the plaintiffs' lawyers seek their legal fees: Up to $21.25 million.
In addition, Zoom has agreed to security measures such as alerting users to any other meeting users with third-party apps in operation. Zoom will also train its employees on how best to handle data.
Privacy and Zoombombs
Across March and April 2020, Zoom's total users ballooned from 10 million to 300 million. Part of the growing pains across that process involved users who couldn't figure out the software interface.
The biggest problem? Zoom's default video meeting status, which allowed anyone with the link to enter the meeting and screen share to all other viewers. Suddenly, internet trolls could jump into an online public Zoom event at will, sharing hateful or offensive content for kicks. All sorts of virtual meetups from Holocaust memorials to corporate events suffered from these disruptions, called “zoombombing.”
Finally, in late April, Zoom released an update to address the issue, with better encryption and the ‘waiting room' feature, which allowed meeting hosts the ability to deny unwanted guests if needed.
The unwanted data sharing allegations centred on if Zoom had shared info on its users' activity with Facebook, Google and LinkedIn.
Zoom and Alternatives
With plenty of security updates and new feature launches in the rearview mirror, Zoom has gotten past the (alleged) problems that it just paid $84 million to ensure I needed to stick an “alleged” parenthetical in front of.
They've since denied wrongdoing, saying on Sunday that “The privacy and security of our users are top priorities for Zoom, and we take seriously the trust our users place in us.”
Zoom remains one of the best video chat service out there, although there are a lot of great alternatives available as well — like Google Meet, GoToMeeting, and RingCentral, to name three. Take a look at our comprehensive guide to web conferencing software for more in-depth reviews, or check out the table below for a quick look at the pros and cons to consider.
The lowest starting price for a paid plan. The lowest price available for your business will depend on your needs.
Overall conference calling
Users that need hardware
Users that need customer support
Yes (paid plan) – VoIP, Phone & Toll-Free
Yes – VoIP, Phone & Toll-Free
Yes – Add-on audio plan allows you to add Call Out, global Toll-free & local dial-in for premium countries
Yes – Companies get a single audio conferencing bridge dial-in phone number for easy universal access.
Yes – Audio-only calls can be created when a host generates an Audio pin
Yes – Just call the number listed on the meeting invite, or join via the link and turn off your camera
Yes – but only in selected countries, and each user dialing into meetings will need an audio-conferencing license.
Yes – in a meeting contact card, users can tap the phone number under Details to call using their default phone or voice app
Yes – Easy access to audio conferencing is provided via a traditional PSTN number
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