FBI investigating ‘Zoom bombings’ involving child sexual abuse
The FBI announced Wednesday that it is seeking information on victims of so-called “Zoom bombings” that contain videos of child sexual abuse, calling such instances a “violent crime.”
Zoom bombings, which involve malicious individuals gaining access to and disrupting a call through the video conference service, have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic as various activities such as classes, work meetings and happy hours have moved online.
The FBI said it had already received over 240 reports of incidents in the U.S. and worldwide of videos of child sexual exploitation videos being used to disrupt Zoom meetings. The agency asked that anyone who has experienced this type of disruption to report it through an online form.
“The FBI considers this activity to be a violent crime, as every time child sexual abuse material is viewed, the depicted child is revictimized,” the FBI wrote. “Furthermore, anyone who inadvertently sees child sexual abuse material depicted during a virtual event is potentially a victim as well.”
The FBI previously issued an alert warning of interruptions to classes held over Zoom in March, saying the agency had received multiple reports of disruptions involving “pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.”
Members of Congress questioned Zoom over how it would address privacy and security issues brought to light during the pandemic, which saw Zoom’s usership increase from 10 million daily participants in December to 300 million daily participants in April.
The company has made substantial changes in response to ongoing Zoom bombings, including rolling out “Zoom 5.0” to enhance encryption and add default passwords for meetings.
CEO Eric Yuan apologized for the problems and wrote in an April blog post that the company had “fallen short of the community’s – and our own – privacy and security expectations.”