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Nude stranger takes the floor in Saskatchewan R.M. Zoom meeting

The R.M. of Dufferin council was meeting in chambers when the Zoom gallery started to fill with new attendees, including a naked man. Jennifer Argue / Last Mountain Times

A Saskatchewan rural municipality council appears to have fallen victim to “zoom-bombing” last week after a naked man appeared on a Zoom call during a meeting.

The R.M. of Dufferin council was meeting in chambers when the Zoom gallery started to fill with new attendees.

Numerous voices could be heard over several open mics. Council looked confused as they looked at the screen, trying to understand what was happening when the screen suddenly split and a very naked man appeared.

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The sudden appearance elicited gasps and shocked laughter, with many looking away. The man started to speak and pendulate his private parts before the RM’s CAO cut the meeting short.

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Chief administrative officer Tammy Knuttila said she first heard children’s voices and thought perhaps a school classroom had joined to watch a council meeting.

When she realized what was happening, she took action “…as quickly as I could I closed the Zoom meeting and then set up a new link, and even then, a couple of people came into the waiting room and if I didn’t recognize the name, I didn’t let them in.” Knuttila says she believed they were “Zoom-bombed.”

She saw a few new names enter the waiting room, and instead of admitting people one at a time, she hit “admit all,” which was when the gallery flooded with people not there for the meeting.

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“We have been deeply upset to hear about these types of incidents and Zoom strongly condemns such behavior. We take meeting disruptions extremely seriously and, where appropriate, we work closely with law enforcement authorities. We encourage users to report any incidents of this kind to Zoom and law enforcement authorities so the appropriate action can be taken against offenders,” A Zoom spokesperson said.

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“We have a number of default settings and features to help hosts more easily access in-meeting security controls, including controlling screen sharing, removing and reporting participants, and locking meetings, among other actions. We have also been educating users on security best practices for setting up their meetings, including recommending that users avoid sharing private meeting links and passwords publicly on websites, social media, or other public forums, and encouraging anyone hosting large-scale or public events to utilize Zoom’s webinar solution.”

Zoom has numerous tips on utilizing the system. One of the videos, called “Tips for Preventing Meeting Disruptions,” gives hosts tips that hosts can utilize. Such as webinars vs meetings, passcodes, enabling a waiting room that requires participants to be individually admitted by the host, and controls such as video and audio controls and options to report users.

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In hindsight, Knuttila said she shouldn’t have hit “admit all” and will be more careful in the future. She is new to the RM and isn’t used to being the only administrative person in a meeting. She is getting used to being responsible for taking minutes, listening and managing Zoom.

From the RM’s perspective, she says they are treating it as an isolated incident.

“I hope it doesn’t happen again. If it happened again, we might revisit if Zoom is appropriate.”

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