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Committee approves Dunn ordinance to protect addiction recovery meetings from ‘Zoom-bombing’

Summary

Legislation that would make it illegal in King County to hack into virtual addiction recovery and mental health meetings was approved Tuesday in the Law & Justice Committee of the King County Council.

Story

Legislation that would make it illegal in King County to hack into virtual addiction recovery and mental health meetings was approved Tuesday in the Law & Justice Committee of the King County Council.

The proposed ordinance, sponsored by King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn, aims to protect the privacy of individuals who are going through an addiction recovery or mental health program on a videoconference platform such as Zoom. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of such meetings have shifted to these platforms.

“The right to privacy is a critical component of healing for those who are going through an addiction recovery program or receiving mental health treatment,” Dunn said. “I know from experience that being open about your struggles is essential to the journey to recovery. Creating legal protections for the privacy of those seeking recovery will assure that they can share freely, without judgement.”

The ordinance would create the offense of obtaining information or disrupting video teleconferences of recovery, mental health, and behavioral health support groups without authorization, and prescribe civil penalties.

Since the start of the pandemic, national data has shown a 13% increase in alcohol or controlled substance use, with 40% of people reporting depression, mental health, or substance use. The pandemic has also resulted in a shift to virtual meetings on videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom, and instances of Zoom “bombing” have become commonplace. With new proposed civil penalties, victims of virtual meeting hacks or disruptions will have due course to sue the perpetrator.

This legislation is scheduled for a vote by the full King County Council on March 9, 2021.

Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Email:
council@kingcounty.gov