Zoom has acknowledged it has no plans to offer end-to-end encrypted video conference calls to users of its free service, because it wants to work with law enforcement agencies like the FBI.
In a startling admission, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan says it only plans to offer the industry standard encryption technology to its paying and enterprise users. Schools will have access to end-to-end security too.
Yuan said in the recent earnings call (via The Verge): “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.”
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Naturally, those comments have caused a fair amount of controversy. Not just because Zoom seems to consider basic security something that should only be provided to those who wish to pay for the privilege. It also appears that Zoom is on board with selling out free users to the authorities if they believe there’s cause to.
This revelation should give those using Zoom to meet up with friends and family during the coronavirus pandemic pause before they continue using the Skype rival, once social distancing restrictions come to an end.
Paid Zoom accounts start at $15 per month with a host of options depending on how many hosts per account, maximum number of participants and the cloud storage options sought by the customer. Free users offer the ability to host 100 participants, in unlimited one-on-one meetings, and places a 40-minute limit on group meetings.
Zoom has been riddled with security concerns since it became popular in the early part of 2020. There have been several highly publicised and unsavoury Zoombombing instances where uninvited parties have been able to jump into meetings – often with explicit consequences.
Back in April a security update targeted those concerns, but end-to-end encryption is still missing at this moment in time. Unless you’re prepared to pay for it, it always will be.
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