Updated: June 4, 2020 10:28:17 am
Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan says the company will provide end-to-end encryption for the platform – but the feature will only be available to paid users. Yuan, the company’s CEO, said Zoom won’t encrypt free users’ video calls as it wants to allow law enforcement to intercept calls.
“Free users for sure we don’t want to give [end-to-end encryption] because we also want to work together with FBI, with local law enforcement in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose,” Yuan said on the call with analysts during the company’s Q1 financial results.
Zoom’s security consultant, Alex Stamos, took to Twitter, to clear the air around encryption and said the company faces a “difficult balancing act” when trying to increase privacy and reduce the human impact of the abuse of the product.
According to Stamos, if the bad actors who have exploited the platform in recent times were given strong encryption with their free accounts, it would be hard for the company to track them down and allow law enforcement agencies to take timely action.
“Will this eliminate all abuse? No, but since the vast majority of harm comes from self-service users with fake identities this will create friction and reduce harm,” Stamos said.
As the popularity of Zoom soared with millions of people work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the video conferencing platform has been criticised over of its privacy and security features, especially after an increase in number cases of “Zoombombing.” Last month, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the central government, seeking its opinion on whether video conference platform Zoom should be banned due to the rise in privacy and security concerns.
End-to-end encryption is one of the best protections against surveillance, although not sufficient on its own. I have been involved with shipping E2EE on two widely used products and I’m working on the third. An attempt to do so at Yahoo in concert with Google was killed by both.
— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) June 3, 2020
Zoom previously falsely advertised itself as using end-to-end encryption, but later confirmed in a blogpost that end-to-end encryption was not currently possible. Privacy and security experts say encryption is important for data protection, especially now when cases of data breaches are becoming more common. Zoom is yet to reveal the exact timeline for when end-to-end encryption would roll out for those paid customers.
Lately, the company has been taking extra measures to improve the platform. It announced a major new update to tackle the issues of privacy and security by introducing AES 256-bit GCM encryption for all users.
On Tuesday, Zoom reported first-quarter results which were better than expected. Revenue surged by 169 per cent to $328 million in the first three months to the end of April. Zoom said its video conferencing platform had 300 million daily users in April, up from 10 million a day in December. Zoom is valued at over $45 billion.
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