Zoom has announced it will be bringing complete end-to-end encryption to all its users.
It means for the first time Zoom’s free account holders will get access to full encryption that protects the contents of their video calls. But, there’s a catch.
In able to use the encryption, users will have to submit some kind of information – such as verifying a phone number – as collateral. The reason is so that Zoom has something to give to authorities if asked. According to the video messaging company the same strategy is used by other companies to stop bad types from exploiting the encryption to break the law.
The end-to-end encryption (E2EE) won’t be coming to Zoom’s free users just yet – the company says it’ll start with a beta test in July and go from there. Even when it arrives, the encryption is optional and hosts or meeting admins can decide whether or not to use it on a per-meeting basis.
‘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,’ Zoom CEO Eric Yuan wrote in a blog post.
‘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.
He continued: ‘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.’
Despite its huge popularity since the coronavirus pandemic, Zoom has been hit with a wave of criticism over its handling of privacy and security measures.
Other companies have been aggressively pushing rival services – such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet – to try and get a piece of the video chatting pie.
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