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

Zoom has no plans to offer end-to-end encryption to users who use the free version of the app.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 4, 2020 1:45:54 pm
zoom, zoom encryption, zoomencryption paid users, No end-to-end encryption for free Zoom users, zoom app, zoom video call Zoom is yet to reveal the exact timeline for when end-to-end encryption would roll out for those paid customers.

Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan says the company will provide end-to-end encryption for the platform – but the feature will only be available to paid users. Yuan, the company’s CEO, said Zoom won’t encrypt free users’ video calls as it wants to allow law enforcement to intercept calls.

“Free users for sure we don’t want to give [end-to-end encryption] because we also want to work together with FBI, with local law enforcement in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose,” Yuan said on the call with analysts during the company’s Q1 financial results.

Zoom’s security consultant, Alex Stamos, took to Twitter, to clear the air around encryption and said the company faces a “difficult balancing act” when trying to increase privacy and reduce the human impact of the abuse of the product.

According to Stamos, if the bad actors who have exploited the platform in recent times were given strong encryption with their free accounts, it would be hard for the company to track them down and allow law enforcement agencies to take timely action.

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“Will this eliminate all abuse? No, but since the vast majority of harm comes from self-service users with fake identities this will create friction and reduce harm,” Stamos said.

In a statement to Indianexpress.com, Zoom says its end-to-end encryption plan “balances the privacy of its users with the safety of vulnerable groups.

“Zoom does not proactively monitor meeting content, and we do not share information with law enforcement except in circumstances like child sex abuse,” the company said. “We do not have backdoors where anyone can enter meetings without being visible to others. None of this will change.”

As the popularity of Zoom soared with millions of people work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the video conferencing platform has been criticised over of its privacy and security features, especially after an increase in number cases of “Zoombombing.” Last month, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the central government, seeking its opinion on whether video conference platform Zoom should be banned due to the rise in privacy and security concerns.

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Zoom previously falsely advertised itself as using end-to-end encryption, but later confirmed in a blogpost that end-to-end encryption was not currently possible. Privacy and security experts say encryption is important for data protection, especially now when cases of data breaches are becoming more common. Zoom is yet to reveal the exact timeline for when end-to-end encryption would roll out for those paid customers.

Lately, the company has been taking extra measures to improve the platform. It announced a major new update to tackle the issues of privacy and security by introducing AES 256-bit GCM encryption for all users.

On Tuesday, Zoom reported first-quarter results which were better than expected. Revenue surged by 169 per cent to $328 million in the first three months to the end of April. Zoom said its video conferencing platform had 300 million daily users in April, up from 10 million a day in December. Zoom is valued at over $45 billion.

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