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Zoom Says Advanced End-to-End Encryption Won't be Available to Free Users

Zoom Says Advanced End-to-End Encryption Won’t be Available to Free Users

Video conferencing app Zoom has this week reported its latest earnings results, recording massive increases in both usage and revenue, as businesses seek alternative connection options amid the COVID-19 lockdowns.

As per Zoom CEO Eric Yuan:

“We were humbled by the accelerated adoption of the Zoom platform around the globe in Q1. The COVID-19 crisis has driven higher demand for distributed, face-to-face interactions and collaboration using Zoom. Use cases have grown rapidly as people integrated Zoom into their work, learning, and personal lives.” 

 

Zoom’s revenue was up 169% year-over-year, with usage up 354%. Those numbers were somewhat expected, with Zoom reporting back in March that it had reached 300 million active participants, up from 10 million total users in December. But even so, the scale of expansion is significant, and Zoom has been working to improve its systems and processes in line with increased demand, while also seeking to update its security features in order to address various flaws exposed by the increased attention.

While it’s multi-participant conferencing capacity has proven highly convenient, Zoom’s systems were also found to be exposing user data to various security risks – so much so that the FBI issued a warning about potential exposure to outside elements.

That prompted Zoom to revise its security structure, implementing end-to-end encryption, and adding new security expertise to beef up its user protections.

But now, Zoom says that not everyone will be able to access these increased measures.

As per Bloomberg:

“Corporate clients will get access to Zoom’s end-to-end encryption service now being developed, but Yuan said free users won’t enjoy that level of privacy, which makes it impossible for third parties to decipher communications.”

According to Yuan:

“Free users for sure we don’t want to give that because we also want to work together with FBI, with local law enforcement in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose.” 

That concession could lead to more people shifting away from Zoom, and to other, more secure options like Google Meet, which it recently made free, or even Facebook’s Rooms video calls.

The decision not to provide end-to-end encryption for free users seems an odd stance to take – but then again, there may be resource limitations around such, while Zoom, as Yuan notes, may be seeking to maintain relationships with authorities by limiting such usage.

But then, of course, bad guys could just get a Zoom subscription, then use the encryption tools anyway. I guess the counter is that, in that instance, Zoom would have their contact info on file – but in order to utilize such, Zoom would need to monitor what’s being said in their conferences, which would make any such protection null and void anyway.

Even so, Zoom has improved its security tools overall, they just may not be as advanced in its free version as it’s communicated more broadly. Does that make it a less valid consideration for your needs? That depends on your perspective, and use case.

Essentially, if you have security concerns about Zoom, you need to ensure you read an understand the platform’s terms of use, and how they relate to data-sharing and information access.

You can read Zoom’s full quarterly report here.

Follow Andrew Hutchinson on Twitter

Source socialmediatoday.com

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