Zoom Settles for $85M in Class Action Suit Over Privacy

Individuals' settlements are limited to 15% refunds on Zoom subscriptions or $25, whichever's larger.

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.

0 out of 0
Price from
The lowest starting price for a paid plan. The lowest price available for your business will depend on your needs.
Best for
Free plan
Audio-Conferencing
Pros
Cons

Zoho Meeting

GoTo Meeting

Zoom

RingCentral

Webex

Google Meet

Microsoft Teams

Lifesize

BlueJeans

$5/month

$4/month

$12-$16/month

Zoho users

Overall conference calling

Beginners

Longer meetings

Larger businesses

Google users

Microsoft users

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

  • Free – no time limit
  • Browser functionality
  • SSL/128-bit AES encryption
  • High quality video
  • Reliable and secure
  • Lower cost than competitors
  • Easy to use
  • Feature-rich free version available
  • Intuitive interface
  • Lots of customizability
  • Affordable
  • Feature-rich software
  • High quality video
  • Easy setup
  • Google Calendar compatibility
  • Saves chat logs
  • Easy integration with Google apps
  • Completely free
  • 300 participants
  • Integrates with Microsoft 365
  • 1080p video and HD audio,
  • Integrates with third-party apps
  • Good value
  • Amazing sound quality
  • Lots of features
  • Many software integrations
  • Recording costs extra
  • Weak free plan
  • Poor audio quality
  • No analytics
  • Free – no single sign-on
  • Occasional bandwidth issues
  • Spotty connectivity
  • No gallery view for guests
  • Steep learning curve
  • Unsophisticated chat function
  • Connectivity issues without update
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Written by:

Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and he has an art history book on 1970s sci-fi out from Abrams Books in 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.

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