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After Zoombombers’ disruption, new rules for Iowa Senate hearings

DES MOINES — There are new guidelines for participation in Iowa Senate subcommittee hearings after a brief pornographic incident on Monday.

Subcommittee hearings are being held online this year, so members of the public don’t have to trek to the statehouse during the pandemic to testify for or against bills. Internet trolls tried to disrupt a meeting Senator Amy Sinclair moderated.

“What is happening is disgusting,” Sinclair said, “and if that’s what you think is a good idea to have included on a subcommittee on educational topics, then you honestly don’t deserve to be part of that conversation.”

The new guidelines require participants to provide on-screen identification before they’ll be allowed into the virtual forum. Monday’s subcommittee hearing had nearly 300 participants. Sinclair ordered the removal of the few who were laughing and making inappropriate gestures.

“I will not tolerate pornography or hidden insults,” Sinclair said.

So called “Zoombombers” began disrupting government meetings and even online classes as use of the platform soared during the pandemic. Zoom managers recommends against sharing details of meetings on social media and notes there is a way to disable cameras and mute the audio of participants.

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