Video chat company Zoom confirmed this week that it won’t allow end-to-end encryption to be free of charge. This is partly because it wants to give law enforcement access to these calls if necessary.
Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said they think this feature should be a part of their offering for professional customers. They don’t want to give it to free users, because they also want to work together with the FBI. They also want to work with local law enforcement, in case some people use Zoom for malicious purposes.
Encryption may be a key issue for Zoom, who have been attempting to strengthen their privacy and security. This was after heavy usage exposed weak points during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reports say the company will only roll out high-security end-to-end encryption to paying customers. This potentially comes with exceptions for dissident groups or nonprofits that require the added security.
There are industry-wide talks about protecting privacy without making it too difficult to catch illegal and abusive content. Congress is currently reviewing a bill that opponents fear could legally punish those using encryption on social media.
The Justice Department has disapproved of Facebook’s plans to enable end-to-end encryption across its services.
Child safety advocates have warned that predators use Zoom and other live video platforms to live stream abuse. Furthermore, one federal prosecutor dubbed it the Netflix of child pornography.
Strong encryption would likely make such content harder for moderators and police to seek out. It would also offer additional protection for people who need to discuss sensitive information or are in danger of intrusion and harassment.
Paying Customers can Get Zoom’s end-to-end Subscription
American Civil Liberties Union fellow, Jon Callas, described Zoom’s decision as a way to urge obviate the riff-raff. They anonymously connect to free calls.
Yuan emphasized that encryption also requires practical trade-offs. People can’t do things like dial into an encrypted call using a phone.
So it’s likely that many business customers won’t use it all the time. He also emphasized that keeping law enforcement in the loop is one of Zoom’s priorities.
Zoom elaborated on the policy, saying it does not proactively monitor the content of meetings. It does not share information with law enforcement except in such circumstances as child sex abuse.
They do not have any backdoors where participants can enter meetings without being visible to others; none of this will change. This was according to the company’s spokesperson.
This end-to-end encryption plan from Zoom balances the privacy of its users with the safety of vulnerable groups. This also includes children and potential victims of hate crimes.
They plan to provide end-to-end encryption to users whose identities we could verify. This thereby limits harm to these vulnerable groups. Free users sign up with an email address, which does not provide enough information to verify their identity.
The communications technology company has faced a privacy and security backlash as it has surged in popularity. However, free users of Zoom won’t get an end-to-end subscription, so that the FBI and police can access their calls. But businesses, schools, and other paying customers will get it.