The videoconferencing app that skyrocketed in popularity due to the coronavirus, Zoom, previously said that end-to-end encryption would only be available for premium users. However, the company has now changed its tune following backlash, and end-to-end encryption will now be available for both free and paid users.
The company made the announcement on their official website recently, where they said the following:
“Since releasing the draft design of Zoom’s end-to-end encryption (E2EE) on May 22, we have engaged with civil liberties organizations, our CISO council, child safety advocates, encryption experts, government representatives, our own users, and others to gather their feedback on this feature. We have also explored new technologies to enable us to offer E2EE to all tiers of users.
Today, Zoom released an updated E2EE design on GitHub. We are also pleased to share that we have identified a path forward that balances the legitimate right of all users to privacy and the safety of users on our platform. This will enable us to offer E2EE as an advanced add-on feature for all of our users around the globe – free and paid – while maintaining the ability to prevent and fight abuse on our platform.
To make this possible, Free/Basic users seeking access to E2EE will participate in a one-time process that will prompt the user for additional pieces of information, such as verifying a phone number via a text message. Many leading companies perform similar steps on account creation to reduce the mass creation of abusive accounts. We are confident that by implementing risk-based authentication, in combination with our current mix of tools — including our Report a User function — we can continue to prevent and fight abuse.”
For those unfamiliar with what end-to-end encryption is, it basically ensures that only participants and their devices can see and hear what is happening in a meeting. However, this excludes those who call into a meeting from a telephone line, so it isn’t entirely foolproof.