Pole Dancing Instructor Sues Zoom for Allowing “Uninvited Guests” to Join Session

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus and the social distancing requirement, virtually everyone has used Zoom, a video conference service. In a unique, difficult and certainly intriguing lawsuit, a Texas-based burlesque and pole dancing instructor, Stacey Simins, has sued Zoom Video Communications Inc. In the lawsuit, Simins claims “uninvited men” joined her live-video classes, causing her to have to cancel some sessions and even lose clients.

Stacey Simins

Simins owns and runs a dance studio in Austin, Texas. In March 2020, in response to the state’s shelter-in-place order prompted by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, she began using Zoom to teach classes online. She purchased a “Pro account,” and “expected Zoom to be private and secure,” but soon learned her privacy settings could be breached.

The lawsuit states that, “After Ms. Simins began using Zoom, uninvited men joined some of her classes on Zoom. The attackers were intimidating and harassing to Ms. Simins’s clients. On at least one occasion, Ms. Simins had to cancel a session as a result. Several of Ms. Simins’s students have refused to join more classes because of their fear over future incidents.”

She filed her lawsuit on Monday in California federal court and is seeking class-action status. Her lawsuit criticized Zoom for promising a level of encryption that she said it was unable to provide. Her complaint points to “security failings” that have allowed “bad actors” to hack into thousands of live video conference and recorded meetings that were stored on its server and access web cameras.

“Zoom has long marketed the service as being protected with end-to-end, 256-bit encryption,” the lawsuit states. “But in reality, Zoom has failed to deliver private and secure video conferencing: The level of encryption Zoom provides is far less robust than what it promised.”

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