The Saint Paulus Lutheran Church in California has filed a lawsuit against Zoom, a video chat company, after hackers allegedly gained access to its bible study session to stream pornography.
The latest hijack comes few days after a virtual meeting involving South African lawmakers was interrupted by hackers who flooded the video call with pornographic images.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions around the world have sought alternatives to physical meetings, including video calls and conferences across platforms to prevent a further spread.
According to CNN, the US church, whose elders described the footage as “sick and disturbing,” filed the lawsuit after Zoom allegedly failed to address the issue after its helpline was contacted.
In the suit filed to a federal court in San Jose on Wednesday, the church, which is one of the oldest in San Francisco, said the incident occurred on May 6.
The plaintiffs accused the platform of “prioritizing profit and revenue over data protection and user security” and sought damages for alleged negligence and invasion of privacy.
It was gathered that, while the “known offender” played pornographic videos, about eight bible study students, mostly pensioners, had their computers’ control systems suddenly disabled.
“The footages were sick and sickening – portraying adults engaging in sex acts with each other and performing sex acts on infants and children, in addition to physically abusing them,” the suit alleged
Mark Molumphy, one of the church’s lawyers, also added: “Saint Paulus Lutheran was basically ignored, and Zoom likely hoped that the Church would just go away.
“However, it is not going away, and instead, courageously stepping up to try to change Zoom’s practices and make sure this doesn’t happen again to anyone else.
“One would think that Zoom, having been informed of the Church’s horrific experience, would’ve done everything possible to acknowledge and fix the security vulnerabilities of its platform.”
Zoom, whose platform has seen a considerable increase in users in recent times, however, hedged that the offender was identified. It also denied claims that decisive action wasn’t taken to block their access.
“Our hearts go out to those impacted,” the company said.
“On the same day we learned of this incident, we identified the offender, took action to block their access to the platform and reported them to the relevant authorities.”
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