Zoom to add end-to-end encryption but not for free users so law enforcement agencies can access calls

Video conferencing platform Zoom’s usage skyrocketed over the past few months given that many businesses around the world adopted the Work From Home policy because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the rise in usage of Zoom, some issues related to the service also surfaced online and people started sharing concerns about the privacy and security risks with the usage of Zoom.

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In response, the company has announced that it will be adding support for end-to-end encryption. But, it 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.

So, this means that free users won’t get the encryption feature. Explaining the reason behind this, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said in a meeting with investors: “We think this feature should be a part of our offering. 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.”

The comments from the company’s CEO emphasizes where the company’s priorities lie — keeping the law enforcement in the loop.

Elaborating on the policy, Zoom’s spokesperson said that the “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.”

The comments from Eric Yuan come at a time when officials are pressuring companies to provide backdoors to law enforcement agencies but companies like Apple are refusing to do so.