Florida Gov. DeSantis concerned ‘Zoombombing’ could be a problem in voter rights for ex-felons trial

(Zoom video conference video screenshot/U.S. Department of State)

“Zoombombing” has become a disturbing national phenomenon — one that’s affected everybody from schoolchildren to U.S. governors like Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Last summer, DeSantis signed a bill into law that stipulated that ex-felons, excluding those convicted of murder or a sexual offense, may restore their voting rights only if they meet certain prerequisites, including the requirement they pay off any court fines and fees, in addition to any restitution owed to the families they’d hurt.

The bill was signed in response to Florida voters having approved an amendment during the 2018 midterms calling for ex-felons to be re-granted their voting rights.

After DeSantis signed the bill, left-wing groups predictably sued, as it seems they’d prefer that ex-felons be automatically re-granted their voting rights, never mind the bills they owe to society.

That case, Kelvin Leon Jones, et al. v. Ron DeSantis, et al., is now set to go to trial. But because of the global coronavirus pandemic, it’s not safe to hold a traditional trial. And so state officials have chosen to hold the trial via Zoom, a video-conferencing platform that’s become popular amid the crisis.

In a legal filing submitted last week, however, DeSantis argued against this method of trial on the basis, among other reasons, that Zoom has become a hotspot for so-called “Zoombombing.”

View the document below:

“[C]ounsel for the Secretary remains concerned about possible security flaws in popular electronic platforms like Zoom. platform open to the public. The FBI seemingly shares these concerns, especially for a platform open to the public,” part of the document reads.

This is true.

In a stunning report published last Friday, The New York Times revealed that Internet trolls have been hijacking Zoom conferences with pranks, hate speech and sometimes even outright harassment.

The outlet cited one case in which a Muslim man tried to host a Zoom conference “about maintaining spirituality and wellness during the coronavirus crisis,” only to be inundated with hate.

“[S]uddenly a cursor began to draw a racial slur across one of the slides. … The infiltrator then began to screen-share a pornographic video while repeating the racial epithet verbally,” the outlet reported.

Now just imagine something like this occurring during a trial.

The situation has grown so dire that even the FBI has taken note and urged victims to report “Zoombombing” cases to the agency.

“The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language. … If you were a victim of a teleconference hijacking, or any cyber-crime for that matter, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov,” the agency announced late last month.

“Additionally, if you receive a specific threat during a teleconference, please report it to us at tips.fbi.gov or call the FBI Boston Division at (857) 386-2000.”

Some “Zoombombing” attacks have involved children being exposed to adult content.

During a Zoom video conference for students at Utah’s Grovecrest Elementary School last week, hackers not only inundated the students with anti-Semitic remarks but also reportedly stripped themselves naked.

Learn more below:

Again, just imagine something like this occurring during a trial.

Meanwhile, Zoom currently faces scrutiny from prosecutors and a lawsuit out of California.

“Zoom Video Communications is facing increased scrutiny over customer privacy this month as New York’s top prosecutor is probing the suddenly popular teleconferencing company’s security practices during the coronavirus work-from-home movement,” CBS News has confirmed.

“Zoom also is being sued in California for allegedly giving users’ personal data to outside companies including Facebook without fully informing customers that’s the case.”

Yet despite these concerns — from the threat of “Zoombombing” to the potential violation of privacy — the plaintiffs in the case against DeSantis filed a counter-motion later in the week arguing against abandoning Zoom.

“After discussion with this Court’s Information Technology (IT) Specialist, internal IT professionals, outside legal vendors, and counsel for Defendants, as well as the parties’ own experience conducting six depositions over Zoom in this case — each utilizing multiple exhibits — Plaintiffs believe that a trial can be conducted using a video platform,” the filing reads.

“Numerous other courts, including federal district courts in the Eleventh Circuit and Florida state courts, have chosen to use a video platform for trials and hearings and determined that doing so will create an optimal record, permit the court to make credibility determinations based on video witness testimony, and allow the public to observe the proceedings.”

See the document below:


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