Zoom won’t provide end-to-end encryption to those who use app for free

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on June 04, 2020 Published on June 04, 2020

Zoom, an America-based video calling platform, said that it won’t be able to provide end-to-end encryption for people who use the app for free. The decision has been taken as the platform is willing to provide law enforcement agencies access to calls if necessary, The Verge reported.

“We think this feature should be a part of our offering” for professional customers, said Zoom CEO Eric Yuan in a meeting with investors on Tuesday.

He added: “Free users — for sure we don’t want to give [them] that, because we also want to work together with the FBI, with local law enforcement, in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose.”

Zoom is struggling with many key issues after it went viral during the lockdown which led to the exposure of its shortcomings. This includes encryption issues and privacy and security.

Reuters reported last week that the company will only roll out high-security end-to-end encryption to paying customers, potentially with exceptions for dissident groups or nonprofits that require the added security.

This furthers the debate that is going around the world on maintaining privacy policy while not letting abusive content seep in the social media platforms. Congress is currently considering a bill that opponents fear could legally punish using encryption on social media.

The Justice Department has objected to Facebook’s plans to enable end-to-end encryption across its services.

Child safety advocates have also warned that predators use Zoom — along with other live video platforms — to live stream abuse, with one federal prosecutor dubbing it “the Netflix of child pornography.”

American Civil Liberties Union fellow Jon Callas described Zoom’s decision as a way to “get rid of the riff-raff” who anonymously connect to free calls, as per the Verge report.

Yuan stressed that encryption requires practical trade-offs as well since people can’t do things like dial into an encrypted call with a phone. So it’s likely that even many business customers won’t use it all the time. But his comments also emphasize that keeping law enforcement in the loop is one of Zoom’s priorities.

Zoom said in a statement: “Zoom does not proactively monitor meeting content, and we do not share information with law enforcement except in circumstances like child sex abuse. We do not have backdoors where participants can enter meetings without being visible to others. None of this will change,” said a spokesperson. “Zoom’s end-to-end encryption plan balances the privacy of its users with the safety of vulnerable groups, including children and potential victims of hate crimes. We plan to provide end-to-end encryption to users for whom we can verify identity, thereby limiting harm to these vulnerable groups. Free users sign up with an email address, which does not provide enough information to verify identity.”


Published on June 04, 2020
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