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Personal Finance

Legal minefields to avoid in your Zoom meeting

Zoom meeting
A Zoom meeting host has a legal responsibility to the users. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

If you are reading this article, chances are that you have a social media account that enables you to conduct virtual meetings and others for entertainment. Some of these social media sites include Zoom and Tiktok which are the two that I will use as case studies in today’s article. Your presence on these two sites began when you opened an account by simply providing an email address and a password. You also ticked the little box written “accept terms and conditions.”

This little box dictates your legal relationship with the social media provider and also sets out your rights ( or lack of as the case may be).

The first thing to note is that the jurisdiction that governs the contractual relationship each user has with the provider. In the case of Zoom, the little box designates Carlifonia, United States Of America ( USA) as the jurisdiction. This means if you ever had a legal issue with your service provider Zoom,then you can only have the dispute heard in Carlifonia, USA.

The choice of law clause is further complicated by the fact that the cyber world doesn’t really have any boundaries as the physical world does. Take an example a Zoom meeting is hosted and the participants are from multiple countries, any legal dispute on the issue becomes complicated as it involves several countries.

It would even be more complicated for the authorities to control and regulate such companies. These provider companies are deemed to be foreign and their activities would be beyond the scope of the Government due to jurisdiction challenges. For example if a crime took place through Zoom, it may be a complex affair for the authority to take any action against the company due to jurisdiction issues.

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It becomes difficult to enforce national public security laws. Last week a Kenyan man from Nyeri caused panic when he suggested on social media that the White House ought to be burnt down. Since the man is Kenyan and in Kenya, he did not have an obligation to adhere to US security laws no matter how inflammatory his remarks were.

Your relationship will largely be governed by contract law. When you tick the little box, you actually enter into a contract whose terms are binding. A quick look at Zoom. You are responsible for the content which the provider can take down if there is infringement. If you record a meeting, it is deemed you have given Zoom permission to store the record in their systems. You cannot resell the data generated unless permission is granted. Does this mean you cannot use your own recorded meeting for commercial use?

As you host meetings remember you have a legal responsibility to your users. One is to respect the data privacy of your attendees. It may be risky to record and publicise the meeting without consent of users. Their image rights must be respected. It may be risky to use their image and even video for commercial gain. You remain responsible for the actions of your attendees therefore it is important to regulate their comments ensuring they stick to the law. For example avoid hate speech.

Do not infringe on others’ intellectual property rights.

My recommendation to minimise risk is to have would be attendees ascribe to an online form which would contain indemnities to protect you from legal liability. Attendees will be personally liable for misuse. If you do intend to use the videos for public gain, for example marketing, then inform your attendees and procure their consent.

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