Zoom investigates live child abuse broadcast on app
The video call company has been targeted by a wave of ‘Zoombombing’.
Zoom is investigating reports of live child abuse being broadcast on the video calling service, which has been hit by a wave of so-called “Zoombombing” attacks in which strangers hijack virtual meetings.
Two separate meetings said they were interrupted by illegal images on Friday during Zoom meetings, at least one with a suspected live stream of a child being sexually abused.
An anonymous user twice infiltrated a Zoom call held by the Federation of Young Greens, a collection of environmental groups in Europe, appearing to broadcast the abuse, said Michael Oghia, a consultant on the call.
“I don’t think it was simply a video, it seemed like it was live,” he said. The incident has been reported to authorities in Belgium, the home of the host who organised the virtual meeting.
A Zoom meeting for the Open Rights Group, the British digital liberties group, was also interrupted by a user sharing child pornography on the same day. It is unclear whether it was the same child. However, Mr Oghia said people on the call suspected a coordinated campaign.
A Zoom spokesman said: “These incidents are truly devastating and appalling, and our user policies explicitly prohibit any obscene, indecent, illegal or violent activity or content on the platform. We are looking into these specific incidents to ensure the appropriate action is taken.It is asking users to report incidents to Zoom and the police.
Zoom has been forced to introduce a number of security measures, as usage has skyrocketed thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
By default all meetings now have passwords and virtual waiting rooms, where the host can select who enters the video conference.
It is also working with child advocacy groups like the Internet Watch Foundation and the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) as well as the National Crime Agency.
In 2019, the NCMEC received almost 17m reports of child abuse content from technology companies and 69.1m pieces of child abuse content.
Zoom only reported 57 of the 17m cases last year. But in recent weeks usage of the service has exploded from 10m to 200m daily users.
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A number of schools have banned Zoom after a surge in Zoombombing, where someone enters a video meeting uninvited, typically to share unsavoury content to disrupt the meeting.
There were concerns that pupils were sharing the link to makeshift virtual classes on websites, in the hope they would be disrupted.
The FBI is investigating several incidents where people were able to enter a school’s Zoom meeting to shout obscenities and disrupt a lesson.