You’ve heard of Zoom, the video conferencing app that everybody from schoolchildren to senior executives is using these days, right? It creates electronic “rooms” for meetings that can be joined by anyone with the right link.
Those electronic rooms can also get invaded by hackers, who “Zoom-bomb” the meetings they manage to invade with all sorts of questionable (or offensive) videos, electronic content or pornographic material.
That might sound like the sort of little prank that a teenager might pull — but that kind of little prank could actually result in a lot of federal criminal charges for anybody caught “Zoom-bombing” a meeting.
Just to be clear: The federal government is likely to catch you, should you try Zoom-bombing someone. In fact, prosecutors have announced that they will be looking to pursue whatever criminal charges they can attach to the act. Charges might include:
- Hate crimes
- Disseminating pornography
- Disrupting public meetings
- Computer intrusion
- Transmitting threatening communications
- Using a computer to commit a crime
Many people who get involved in online pranks like these do so en masse. While there are some solo actors, most of the time, Zoom-bombing and similar crimes are coordinated attacks that are planned out among virtual strangers on sites like Reddit, 4Chan or other social media forums.
High spirits can sometimes lead people to believe that even though their “joke” is crude and tasteless, it’s likely to be dismissed by the authorities. As one federal prosecutor stated, however, “You think Zoom bombing is funny? Let’s see how funny it is after you get arrested.”
Using a computer to intrude on another’s electronic meeting can be a serious crime. If you got caught up in something you now regret, get experienced legal assistance.