Tonight’s Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) board meeting was crashed by so-called “Zoom bombers,” hackers who yelled the N-word, projected a swastika and flashed pornographic images onto the screen.
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the country, schools and government agencies alike have taken meetings online using videoconferencing software from San Jose-based Zoom. But while the technology allows government agencies to abide by open-meeting laws while practicing social distancing, there have been concerns about “Zoom bombers” disrupting meetings.
During public comment at tonight’s VTA board meeting, multiple people started yelling the N-word over the video chat. Shortly after, four to five video non-board members popped up on the screen using San Jose Councilman Lan Diep’s name while the D4 rep was logged on in a separate window.
One of the Zoom bombers plastered a Nazi flag on the screen while another played a clip featuring graphic nudity. Another screamed “let me see your p*ssy” before the VTA cut the audio and kicked out the intruders.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, the board chair, apologized to her colleagues and the public immediately after the incident. “I’m sorry for that mess everybody,” she said. “I particularly want to apologize to the speakers for having such a really hateful set of spewings.”
On Friday afternoon, Ken Blackstone, who is spokesperson for VTA, said that the disruption was of “great concern.”
“While VTA is not unique in having to use technology for solutions, which also increases vulnerabilities, we are tightening our procedures to improve security and other general operational protocols going forward to prevent this from happening in the future,” he added.
Blackstone told San Jose Inside that he was unsure if a police report had been filed, but said it had been discussed among VTA officials.