Zoom has been quite vocal on its latest system-wide update that was set to bring in Galois/Counter Mode (GCM) encryption. The update was also mandatory to all users who wished to continue using the app on both mobile and desktop.
However, it seems that end-to-end encryption will not be for everyone. Zoom has now revealed that the feature will not be available for free calls so as to comply with the law. According to Zoom, law enforcement in various countries requires free calls to remain open so as to access your information in case of ‘misuse’ of the platform.
Zoom CEO, Eric Yuan, said today that the video conferencing app’s upcoming feature will be available to only paid users. This was revealed by the executive during the company’s financial report for Q1 2020.
“Free users, for sure, we don’t want to give that [end-to-end encryption]. Because we also want to work it together with FBI and local law enforcement, in case some people use Zoom for bad purpose”, Eric Yuan stated.
In the past, end-to-end encryption has been adopted in other platforms like WhatsApp and not been received well in many countries. This is mainly because the feature hindered authorities from tracing the origins of problematic and misleading messages. As it seems, Zoom wants to avoid being in a similar position and comply with local laws so as to keep operating across the globe.
However, the question arises of how Zoom will continue tackling its security issues that had a lot of users concerned over the past few months. Despite claiming that the app was totally secure, it has been reported on various occasions how hackers are finding it easy to tap into people’s accounts and meetings.
Yuan added on that the company got a lot of feedback from users on encryption, and it’s working out on executing it. However, he didn’t specify a release date for the feature.
Updated on 18/07/2020
Zoom has now announced that end-to-end encryption will be rolled out to all users after all. The feature now won’t be restricted to premium enterprise users but will be available for free users as well. This comes shortly after the company had announced that the feature will not be there for free users.
According to Zoom, this feature will be a toggle switch that any call admin can turn on or off if they want to allow traditional phone lines or older conference room phones to join.
“Zoom does not proactively monitor meeting content, and we do not share information with law enforcement except in circumstances like child sex abuse,” a company spokesperson said at the time, following comments from Zoom CEO Eric Yuan during a call with investors after the company’s quarterly earnings release. “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 feature is scheduled to begin testing next month so it might be reasonable for it to be made official from August.