Imagine you’re having a teleconference (Zoom Meeting in today’s jargon) and all of a sudden your audio explodes with “F**k You, F**k You, F**k You, F**k You, F**k You,” and at the same time your video changes to porno. Interruptions like this have been spreading for months. It’s called Zoombombing.
“Zoombombing or Zoom raiding is an unwanted, disruptive intrusion, generally by internet trolls and hackers, into a video conference call. In a typical Zoombombing incident, a teleconferencing session is hijacked by the insertion of material that are lewd, obscene, racist, or antisemitic in nature, typically resulting in the shutdown of the session.” – Wikipedia
Zoombombing has flourished since COVID:19 struck big in March when people started working more and more from home and organized community and educational programs did the same. Zoombombing is against the law, but finding the culprits is like finding and stopping robocalls: nearly impossible so far.
“National authorities worldwide warned of possible charges against people engaging with Zoombombing. On April 8, 2020, a teen in Madison, Connecticut, was arrested for computer crime, conspiracy, and disturbing the peace following a Zoombombing incident involving online classes at Daniel Hand High School; police also identified another teen involved in the incident. In San Francisco, a man was arrested after being traced to pornographic videos that were streamed on Zoom. As of May 2020, the FBI has received 195 incidents of Zoombombing involving child abuse, while the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency has reported more than 120 such cases.” – Wikipedia
Zoombombing is not something happening elsewhere, it’s happening locally in Western Washington, too. Here is a headline from the University of Washington in April: Students, instructors face threats and hateful speech as Zoom meetings get ‘bombed.’
Community meetings have been disrupted in Tacoma as well. Here is a headline from The News Tribune from March 25th – ‘Zoombombing’ is the new way to troll online. The latest Zoombombing just happened here in Tacoma at the end of July during a community meeting about homelessness.
Zoombombing has disrupted a House Oversight Committee meeting and online classes which should have sent the federal government scampering to contain the tidal wave of possible Zoombombing threats as we look at even more business and government employees working from home with the resurgence of the pandemic and a new school year with mostly online learning and virtual classrooms ahead.
Schools are starting soon. It’s scary. Are online classes with students in Pierce County going to be sabotaged with porno, vile language, and or racist rants? Zoom is working on software to counter the intrusions, but where is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission)? Their silence is deafening.