Zoom, the multi-platform messaging and video-conferencing app won’t have end-to-end encryption for all its users. Unlike Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Meet, Facetime, and several other similar platforms, Zoom might be restricting the availability of the user privacy feature only to paying customers. Essentially, any free Zoom app user must consider the fact that their conversations can, and potentially are, being monitored and perhaps even recorded.
After Zoom put up a 90-day ‘Feature Freeze’ to fix various vulnerabilities identified by researchers around the world, the company claimed it is fundamentally altering the way the multi-role messaging and video conferencing platform works. While Zoom claims it will be adding several new security features to make the calls more secure on the app, the features to boost data and user privacy is perhaps limited to the paying customers. Needless to add, the majority of the paying customers are enterprises and organizations that need a reliable multi-user group video conferencing platform.
Zoom Justifies Limiting End-To-End Encryption To Paying Customers Only:
According to new reports, Zoom will not be supporting end-to-end encryption for non-paying customers. Apparently, the company has claimed that it reserves the right to observe meetings for enforcement purposes. In simple words, this means meetings and conferences of free customers can and could be observed and recorded.
Zoom claims security experts have been warning about the misuse of end-to-end encryption by bad actors to avoid detection and conduct illegal activities. According to Zoom’s security consultant Alex Stamos, Zoom is planning to add stronger encryption to the app but it will be just for paying customers and institutions.
Zoom is working on end-to-end encryption to protect privacy on its increasingly popular video chat service, but it won't be free, report says https://t.co/cDmbHqKz4D
— CNET (@CNET) May 30, 2020
Speaking about the practice of excluding free users from privacy setting, a thing common in WhatsApp, Google Meet, Facetime and several other popular platforms, Stamos claimed, “Full encryption for every meeting would leave Zoom’s trust and safety team unable to add itself as a participant in gatherings to tackle abuse in real-time.”
Interestingly, the end-to-end encryption model will not include people who are joining in via telephone. Moreover, Stamos observed that the plan may change. Additionally, it is quite likely that several non-profit organizations and select institutions might qualify for premium accounts allowing more secure video meetings.
Is End-To-End Encryption In Messaging And Video-Conferencing A Premium Service?
It appears Zoom considers end-to-end encryption is an expensive service, and it is in the company’s best interest to charge a premium to offer the same. WhatsApp, a hugely popular internet-based instant messaging and video conferencing platform has been offering the service for a long time. However, experts argue the Facebook-owned company need not be bothered about costs as it is owned by a social media giant.
It is rather strange for Zoom to deploy such restrictions. This means conversations on Zoom for non-paying or free customers are subject to being monitored and potentially mined for data. Incidentally, Zoom has been found to send user data to Facebook in the recent past.
Zoom paid accounts reportedly will get strong encryption for calls pic.twitter.com/qhmsrEXG5z
— Irene Lenz (@irenlenz) May 30, 2020
The spike in credible data security and user privacy risks reportedly forced companies like Google and SpaceX to completely ban the use of the app for its employees. Additionally, several countries including India and Singapore also advised its citizens and government employees against the use of Zoom.
Following Zoom’s success during the ongoing health crisis, several leading tech companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, have offered equivalent solutions for free and that too with better security. It is not clear if the new policy will impact the active user count of Zoom.