‘Zoom Bombers’ Shout Epithets, Flash Obscene Images in VTA’s Virtual Board Meeting

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.

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

11 Comments

  1. Anyone hosting a Zoom meeting should take the time to set it up properly, There are quire a few settings, including settings that prevent participants from sharing or even talking unless host approved. The VTA needs a Zoom point person who acts as the meeting gatekeeper.

  2. Shame on those bad people, they were likely educated in a government schools !
    In the mean time the corona 19 virus is being spread in filthy public transportation systems like busses, subway, light rail and airplanes which need to be shut down cleaned up and returned to service and cleaned after each use or shuttered for the duration. Homeless people need to be removed from these services. Being stupidly kind is no longer an option with a pandemic.
    Clean them up or shut them down!

  3. The meeting is not password protected, so that doesn’t make this hacking. Please place the blame where it belongs, on whoever didn’t put controls in place. That being said, here is how they fix this.

    1. Password protect the meeting, or limit it to invited guests only.

    2. If they need to broadcast the meeting for public participation purposes, they need to use a software like Open Broadcaster Software https://obsproject.com/ . Use the Zoom meeting as a video source, and rebroadcast it to a platform like Youtube live.

    3. Have chat room moderators on hand to kick/ban any users that are misbehaving. Set the chat to be delayed so moderators have time to get rid of swastika’s, etc.

    4. If someone wants to address the board, then send them a private invite to the zoom meeting.

    I’m not looking for a job, but if the county wants to steal me away from the Federal government, I enjoy doing live video like this over IT stuff. You know where to find me.

  4. > ‘Zoom Bombers’ Shout Epithets, Flash Obscene Images in VTA’s Virtual Board Meeting

    Absurd and comical.

    Probably some left-wingers at Google or Facebook trying to get some sympathy for the left-wingers on the VTA board.

    Real “neo-Nazis” don’t do video conferences or harangue bus companies. They drink beer and do parades.

  5. Not the first time San Jose Inside has sniffed out a “neo-Nazi” and reached for the pitchfork:

    https://www.sanjoseinside.com/2017/01/27/i-saw-you-neo-nazis-attended-the-san-jose-womens-march/

    “I Saw You: Neo-Nazis Attended the San Jose Women’s March?”

    https://www.sanjoseinside.com/2017/02/03/how-an-anti-trump-symbol-got-confused-for-a-swastika/

    “How an Anti-Trump Symbol Got Confused for a Swastika”

    https://www.sanjoseinside.com/2016/09/22/swastikas-hate-speech-found-in-san-jose-state-dorm-rooms/

    “Swastikas, Hate Speech Found in San Jose State Dorm Rooms”

    So, what’s the scorecard?

    How many of these incidents were “real”?

    And how many were somebody trolling somebody?

    Has anyone check on the whereabouts of their local neighborhood AntiFA activist?

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