Zoom free users won’t receive end-to-end encryption

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Zoom CEO, Eric Yuan, confirmed in an investor call earlier this week that the popular videoconferencing platform would not be offering end-to-end encryption for its free users, noting that such a feature is best served for its premium customers.

As for why such a feature would not be made available to users on the free tier of Zoom, Yuan gave a rather concerning answer, explaining that Zoom wanted to comply with law enforcement should the need ever arise.

“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,” he said during the call.

While we understand the videoconferencing platform’s desire to assist law enforcement where it can, it almost comes off as Zoom wanting free users to upgrade to premium offerings in order to get the encryption they desire.

With the platform needing to improve its security ever since its popularity skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide lockdowns, there are several holes that need to be addressed.

Limiting encryption, which is a highly covetable feature, does not seem like a good idea to us.

That said there are indeed other sides to the argument, with child advocacy groups highlighting the need for the removal of encryption, as sexual predators are known to use video chat services. Creating barriers for law enforcement to find evidence would be to the detriment of Zoom’s younger users.

“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,” added a Zoom spokesperson on the matter.

“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,” they concluded.

While the platform is clearly working to ensure its platform is safe and secure for all users, it is also making collaboration with law enforcement a priority. The first instance where law enforcement steps in, will likely show whether this was a well thought out decision.

[Image – Photo by Allie on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.