Zoom Reverts Own Decision, Plans to Bring End-to-End Encryption to All Users

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Zoom has had quite a run this year, all thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. It gained hundreds of millions of users over the past few months but it has also been at the center of controversies and broken promises. Now, the company is trying to do good on its part and offer features that it promised.

Video conferencing service Zoom had said that it will offer end-to-end encryption to only its premium users. However, the company has now taken a U-turn and announced in a blogpost that it will offer end-to-end encryption to all customers, even the ones who are not using its premium plans. The feature will arrive through a beta version of the app that will arrive in July 2020.

In its blogpost, the company said that the end-to-end encryption feature will be available as an optional, advanced add-on. This means that the feature won’t be turned on by default for all users. The new feature could be turned on or off by an administrator if they want old phone lines to join the conference. Zoom also mentioned that it has released an updated design of its encryption feature on GitHub.

Earlier, the company had cited security issues for not offering end-to-end encryption. It had said that it wanted to stop illegal use of video conferencing as it would stop the FBI from accessing the data on free calls. At the time, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan had mentioned it to the company’s investors that it doesn’t monitor video calls of its users unless in extreme cases such as child sex abuse.

Since it started attracting millions of new users after the COVID-19 started spreading, the company has faced harsh criticism on subjects of user data security and end-to-end encryption. Now, the company says that it will continue to offer 256-bit AES GCM encryption as the default encryption method for all its users, and people who want end-to-end encryption can turn on the feature.

Our Take

Although there have been security concerns with its video conferencing service, Zoom has attracted millions of new users who depended on it for catching up with family and friends, and even for work during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. This was because it offered a feature that lets up to 50 people join a video conference calls and features like being able to change the background. If Zoom keeps on improving security, there’s a good chance of it retaining most of its users.

Now, other firms like Facebook and Google have improved their video calling solutions. Facebook introduced Rooms, and has started implementing it in Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Portal, and WhatsApp. Google, on the other hand, made Google Meet free for everyone and fully integrated it into the Gmail app. If you care about security, you can have a look at Facebook Rooms and Google Meet.

[Source: Zoom Blog]