FBI Warns Southlanders to Take Precautions When Conducting Virtual Meetings

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The FBI today urged Southlanders to take precautions to prevent “offensive and illegal material'' from being posted during virtual meetings by uninvited participants.

“The COVID-19 crisis has caused many organizations and schools to conduct virtual meetings/events, some of which are open to the public,'' Laura Eimiller of the FBI said in a statement.

“Additionally, links to many virtual events are being shared online, resulting in a lack of vetting of approved participants,'' Eimiller said.

During the last few months, the FBI has received nearly 200 reports of incidents throughout the United States and in other countries in which a Zoom participant was able to broadcast a video depicting child sexual abuse material, Eimiller said.

“The FBI considers this activity to be a violent crime, as every time child sexual abuse material is viewed, the depicted child is re-victimized,'' Eimiller said. “Furthermore, anyone who inadvertently sees child sexual abuse material depicted during a virtual event is potentially a victim as well.''

The FBI offered the following advice for those who have had their Zoom meetings targeted:

-- If you are the administrator or host of a Zoom meeting in which child sexual abuse material was broadcast, contact the FBI; do not delete or destroy any of your computer logs without further direction.

-- If you recorded a Zoom meeting in which child sexual abuse material was broadcast, contact the FBI for assistance in removing the material from your device.

-- If you believe you are a victim of a child sexual abuse material broadcast during a Zoom event, contact the FBI to learn about your victim rights and possible victim assistance.

-- And if you know who is committing these crimes, contact the FBI.

The FBI also offered the following steps to mitigate future child sexual abuse material issues during Zoom events:

-- Do not make meetings or classrooms public.

-- In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: requiring a meeting password, and using the “waiting room'' feature and control the admittance of guests.

-- Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted, publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific attendees.

-- And manage screensharing options. In Zoom, change screensharing to “Host Only.''

If you are a victim of child sexual abuse material being broadcast during a Zoom event, or if you have information regarding the identity of any individual distributing or producing such material, report it to the FBI at 800-CALL-FBI; or anonymously online at tips.fbi.gov.

Photo: Getty Images

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