Officials are investigating the disruption of a virtual council by a person who shared a pornographic video during the Essex County city’s broadcast Tuesday.
Orange Mayor Dwayne D. Warren informed about the embarrassing situation in an email sent out Wednesday. “During last night’s virtual city council meeting, an individual shared offensive and inappropriate material in the form of a pornographic video.”
Warren said the incident was reported to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. The office did not immediately return a message Wednesday night.
The Mayor said in a statement that efforts were being made to find the person behind the video. “To maintain a safe, respectful forum for our citizens, our staff, and our council members, I have ordered a full investigation to be headed by our Law Department. Whoever is found to be responsible will be prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law.”
Online council meetings are open to the public, allowing users to sign on and participate through software. Orange’s technology systems were not violated, according to city spokesman Keith Royster.
“This was (not) a hack; City Council meetings are open to the public, allowing for the possibility of disruptions by individuals allowed into the meeting,” Royster said in an email. “No City (information technology) systems were compromised.”
The pornographic video can be an instance of “Zoom bombing,” a practice consisting in digital intruders who disrupt meetings and share disturbing content. The FBI has warned about this digital interference as video conferencing has gained widespread use during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language,” an FBI news release issued last year said.