Zoom, Facebook and LinkedIn sued for stealing users’ data

By Patric Hedlund, TME

The conferencing app Zoom has been sued this week, along with Facebook and LinkIn, for compromising users’ personal information. Zoom was used just last week by Mil Potrero Mutual Water Company, El Tejon Unified School District, Frazier Park Public Utility District and Pine Mountain Club’s Property Owners Association.

Use of the free utility is a way for these nonprofit groups to help the public attend meetings, as required by law, despite stay-at-home orders to fight the spread of the covid-19 virus.

The 17-count class-action lawsuit, filed in federal court Monday, April 13, alleges Facebook (which made $71 billion in 2019) and LinkedIn (a $5.3 billion Microsoft subsidiary) unlawfully eavesdropped on Zoom customers, and that Zoom (a $623 million company in 2019) unlawfully shared its users’ personal information with third parties.

In December 2019 Zoom had up to 10 million users a day. By late March 2020, 200 million people per day were using the app, the lawsuit said.

Now passwords of 530,000 Zoom users are being sold on the dark web. Lead plaintiff Todd Hurvitz hired Chicago attorneys Loevy & Loevy—“a civil rights law firm dedicated to protecting consumers’ data privacy”—to file the suit.

The moment users install the Zoom app, Facebook begins eavesdropping “to amass increasingly detailed profiles on the users and to benefit Facebook’s targeted advertising business,” the lawsuit says.

LinkedIn “engaged in similar conduct, covertly intercepting Zoom users’ communications to boost LinkedIn revenues.”

The complaint says LinkedIn disclosed the identities of Zoom users to third parties, even when users took steps to keep their identities anonymous.

All three companies “violated American citizens’ fundamental right to privacy, a right that is of heightened importance as millions shelter in place and communicate primarily online during the pandemic,” said attorney Scott R. Drury of the Loevy & Loevy firm.

Zoom’s chief legal officer, Aparna Burwa, published a blog explaining changes to Zoom’s policies on March 29, as Consumer Reports and others revealed Zoom’s vulnerabilities. The blog is printed in full at www.MountainEnterprise.com.

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This is part of the April 17, 2020 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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