Zoom will now offer end-to-end encryption for users of its free tier, following fierce criticism of its decision to reserve the security feature for paying customers only.
The video conference platform announced in a blog post that after considering feedback on the decision from privacy advocates, child safety and security experts it is reversing course. The company now plans to roll out the end-to-end encryption (E2EE) feature too all users as soon as next month.
In the blog post, CEO Eric Yuan said: “Today, Zoom released an updated E2EE design on GitHub. We are also pleased to share that we have identified a path forward that balances the legitimate right of all users to privacy and the safety of users on our platform.
“This will enable us to offer E2EE as an advanced add-on feature for all of our users around the globe – free and paid – while maintaining the ability to prevent and fight abuse on our platform.”
It’s a significant climbdown from the company, which has suffered from a number of privacy and security issues since its rise to prominence as a crucial remove working tool during the pandemic.
The last we heard from the CEO, he said providing end-to-end encryption for free users would limit its ability to work with governments – a chilling and quite tone-deaf admission from the company given the current state of play. As such, civil liberties groups immediately recommended activists stop using the tool as a means for planning action.
Eric Yuan had said: “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.”
The blowback was swift and now Zoom has made the right call. Its a shame the company has endured another damaging blow to its reputation in the process.