Under pressure from privacy and human rights advocates, Zoom said on Wednesday that it will make end-to-end encryption available to both paying and non-paying users of its video conferencing service.
Previously, Zoom said it would provide end-to-end encryption to paying customers and a less-robust form of encryption, known as transit encryption, to non-paying customers. Zoom said the two-tier offering would allow law enforcement to regulate illicit content coming from users who don’t have accounts and, hence, are harder to track. Paying users, by contrast, had more traceability and, hence, were less likely to use the platform for illegal purposes.
Critics in privacy and human rights circles said the Zoom plans threatened to make privacy a premium feature rather than something that’s available by default. The critics called on Zoom to provide the same protections for all users.
On Wednesday, Zoom announced a new plan to extend end-to-end encryption, or E2EE, to non-paying users.
“To make this possible, Free/Basic users seeking access to E2EE will participate in a one-time process that will prompt the user for additional pieces of information, such as verifying a phone number via a text message,” Zoom CEO Eric Yuan wrote in a post. “Many leading companies perform similar steps on account creation to reduce the mass creation of abusive accounts. We are confident that by implementing risk-based authentication, in combination with our current mix of tools—including our Report a User function—we can continue to prevent and fight abuse.”