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Zoom agrees to settle a privacy lawsuit for $85 million

  • By Catherine Whelan/NPR
FILE PHOTO: This April 18, 2019, file photo shows a sign for Zoom Video Communications ahead of the company's Nasdaq IPO in New York.

Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

FILE PHOTO: This April 18, 2019, file photo shows a sign for Zoom Video Communications ahead of the company's Nasdaq IPO in New York.

Zoom will pay $85 million to settle a lawsuit claiming it violated users’ privacy rights, according to a preliminary settlement filed on Saturday. The class action suit by several Zoom users alleges the company shared personal data with Facebook, Google and LinkedIn, and allowed hackers to disrupt meetings with pornography, inappropriate language or other disturbing content in a practice called “Zoombombing.”

The settlement still requires approval by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, Calif., but if she signs off, subscribers would receive 15% refunds on their core subscriptions, or $25, whichever amount is larger. Zoom users who did not pay for an account can submit a claim for $15. Zoom will also up its security, committing to alerting users about third-party app data sharing, and taking more measures to safeguard user data.

Zoom’s customer base exploded over the course of the pandemic. Many groups and organizations turned to the communications platform as a part of work and lifestyle changes to accommodate coronavirus restrictions. Fitness classes, happy hours, court proceedings, and presidential campaigns all moved to Zoom. People celebrated weddings and grieved at memorial services.

But the enormous spike in users increased attention on the program’s security and privacy flaws.

Zoom is denying wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. A company spokesperson told NPR: “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.”

Another hearing in the case is set for October.

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