The current COVID-19 crisis has forced many organizations like schools and businesses to conduct meetings through online communications platforms such as Zoom. Many of these events are open to the public, and links to such events are often shared and distributed online.
As a result, we have seen an increase in what is known as “zoom hacking” or “zoombombing.” This is where disturbing materials such as pornography and child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) are suddenly broadcast during the call, either by unapproved participants, or sometimes, known members of the group. Such conduct is illegal and can be highly distressing for those exposed to the materials.
FBI Receives Increased Reports of Child Sexual Abuse Zoom Hacks
In the past few months during lockdown, the FBI has received upwards of 195 reports of Zoom hack incidents in the U.S. and other countries. These Zoom meeting interruptions have involved situations where a participant was able to upload or broadcast imagery or videos depicting child sexual abuse materials.
The FBI classifies this type of activity as a violent crime, since each time CSAM is viewed, it re-victimizes the depicted child. In addition, any person who inadvertently views CSAM during a Zoom meeting can also potentially be considered a victim.
Reporting “Zoombombing” Activity
At The Pride Law Firm, we stand against any individual producing or distributing child sexual abuse material. If you were exposed to any CSAM activity through a Zoom hack, there are steps you can take to help identify the person or persons responsible for such egregious crimes:
- If you were the host or administrator of a Zoom conference call interrupted by CSAM broadcasting, please contact local authorities, the FBI, or a child sexual abuse lawyer. Do not delete or destroy any computer logs or cookies without further instructions.
- If your Zoom meeting was being recorded and CSAM was broadcast, please reach out to the FBI for instructions on how to properly remove the offending materials from your electronic device.
- If you believe you have been affected by viewing child sexual abuse material broadcast during a video conference call, please contact the FBI and/or a child sexual abuse attorney to learn about your rights and what assistance is available to you.
- If you know the person or persons who are committing such crimes, contact authorities immediately.
If you are a teacher, educator, or other similar figure, be mindful that mandatory reporting laws may apply to you if you have hosted a Zoom event where CSAM was broadcast.
Preventing the Spread of Child Sexual Abuse Materials
There are several steps you can take to help reduce the risk of child sexual abuse material issues during Zoom calls:
- Adjust Privacy Settings: Don’t make your Zoom meetings or events public. Within the Zoom platform, there are two ways to make meetings private: 1) Require the use of meeting passwords, and 2) utilize the “waiting room” feature, which allows you to control guest admittance
- Be Mindful of Link Distribution: Don’t post the links to your Zoom meetings on any public or unrestricted forums (such as social media posts). Instead, provide meeting links directly to your specific participants and attendees.
- Manage Screen Sharing: If you’re using Zoom, change the screen sharing option to “Host Only.” This prevents guests from sharing their screens and broadcasting potentially damaging information, as only the host can share their screen.
Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Contact The Pride Law Firm
Child sexual abuse is one of the most heinous crimes, and suddenly being exposed to CSAM due to a Zoom hack can be a traumatizing experience. At The Pride Law Firm, we take such matters very seriously and specialize in handling cases of child sexual abuse and child sexual assault.
For every child sexual abuse incident that occurs, there may be several others happening in connection with it. Child sexual abuse can often involve organized trafficking rings, and reporting just one case can help uncover others.
If you have any questions or concerns about your legal rights and options regarding these issues, please contact The Pride Law Firm at (619) 516-8166 for a private consultation. Jessica Pride and her team have been zealously securing justice for hundreds of survivors, helping them find the healing they need to move forward.
If you have any information about the identity of anyone producing or distributing CSAM, please report it to authorities immediately.
Additional Information: Child Sexual Abuse FAQs
What is Child Sexual Abuse?
Child sexual abuse is one of the most serious types of sexual abuse. It can have lasting impacts on the survivor which carry on into adulthood. Child sexual abuse occurs when an adult or older peer uses a child for the purposes of sexual arousal or stimulation.
Child sexual abuse can take various forms, including any sexual activity with a minor, indecent exposure, child grooming, recordings of sexual assaults, and using a child to produce child sexual abuse materials (such as pornography).
What is Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)?
Child sexual abuse material, or “CSAM,” includes any representation of a child engaged in explicit sexual activities, or any representation of a child for primarily sexual purposes. More commonly known as child pornography, CSAM can include both real and simulated activities or exposure.
What is Virtual CSAM?
Virtual CSAM refers to illegal, illicit materials that do not portray a real child, but instead use cartoons, computer-generated images (CGI), or other methods to depict children graphically in a sexual manner. These types of images and videos have been appearing in Zoom hack incidents as well and should also be reported immediately.
How Can a Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer Help Me?
Child sexual abuse is a serious matter that must be dealt with in a systematic, thorough manner. Reporting CSAM hacks can uncover various legal and criminal issues that require knowledge of sexual assault and child sexual abuse laws.
A child sexual abuse lawyer can guide you through the process to relieve the stress, trauma, and burdens you may be experiencing. Contact The Pride Law Firm at (619) 516-8166 for a no-cost, confidential consultation about what you have experienced.