Zoom: No end-to-end encryption for everyone

End-to-end encryption of the calls remains only available to paying Zoom customers. Because the company wants to continue to be able to cooperate with state authorities.

The video call company Zoom confirmed this week that there will be no end-to-end encryption for users of the free version. The reason: The group wants to be able to guarantee state authorities – if necessary – access to the recorded conversations. Said about that Eric Yuan, Founder and CEO of Zoom, during a meeting with investors:

We think this feature should be a part of our offering for professional customers. […] 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.

Encryption of the calls initially only for paying customers

The fact that Zoom does not have conventional end-to-end encryption already caused criticism, since the company incorrectly advertised it. Due to the corona pandemic, the use of the video conference tool has increased significantly. With significant security deficiencies, Yuan ordered a 90-day freeze feature to close. Zoom even took over the encryption company Keybase for this. The team around security experts Max Krohn should work with the highest priority to introduce end-to-end encryption for user conversations. Zoom already confirmed to the Reuters online portal last week that it will now be rolled out for paying customers. At this point it was still unclear whether users of the free version could also have end-to-end encrypted calls via Zoom. Yuan has now clearly rejected this option.

No end-to-end encryption with Zoom: security or privacy?

Zoom decided against end-to-end encryption for all users. The company would also like to be able to support state institutions, if necessary, with the release of user data or conversation records. Since this significantly affects the privacy of users, there have been lively discussions in the past – and not just for Vidoecall Tools. Social media platforms also disagree as to whether the encryption of the calls in favor of state security should be abandoned. At a meeting, investors of the social media giant Facebook spoke out in favor of postponing a complete coding of user messages.

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Yuan said in a recorded investor meeting that eavesdropping on user meetings would violate Zoom’s guidelines. Therefore, users of the free version should not have any concerns that their conversations will be recorded and listened to due to the lack of end-to-end encryption. In a statement, a company spokesman said:

Zoom does not proactively monitor meeting content, and we do not share information with law enforcement except in circumstances like child sex abuse. We do not have backdoors where participants can enter meetings without being visible to others. None of this will change. Zoom’s 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.

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