Those of you who are using Zoom, on a free account, might want to stop doing that. According to The Next Web, Zoom calls made by people who have free accounts won’t be encrypted. The end-to-end encryption is only for paid users.
Bloomberg reported that Zoom’s sales “soared” in the three months that ended on April 30, 2020. This happened due to a wave of stay-at-home orders put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Those who suddenly found themselves working from home, and students whose schools shifted to virtual learning, started using Zoom. Clearly, Zoom has the money to add end-to-end encryption for all users.
Choosing not to do that is strange, especially since children use Zoom to access education. Churches and groups that focus on therapy and/or addiction have also used Zoom for meetings.
We’ve all heard about “Zoom-bombing”, which got so bad that the U.S. Department of Justice warned that “Zoom-bombing” can result in fines or imprisonment. That is a problem, but I don’t see how cutting off free users from end-to-end encryption will solve it.
The Next Web reported a quote from Zoom CEO Eric Yuan. “Free users, for sure, we don’t want to give that [end-to-end encryption]. Because we want to work it together with the FBI and local law enforcement, in case some people use Zoom for bad purpose.”
Alex Stamos, whom The Next Web identified as a security consultant for Zoom, tweeted: “Zoom is dealing with some serious issues. When people disrupt meetings (sometimes with hate speech, CSAM, exposure to children and other illegal behaviors) that can be reported by the host. Zoom is working with law enforcement on the worst repeat offenders.”
From this, it sounds like Zoom believes that free users cause shenanigans. But, that paints all free users with the same brush, and that’s not acceptable. I think Zoom will lose customers over this decision. I don’t think parents of kids who use Zoom for school, people who attend church through Zoom, or those who access self-help meetings on Zoom, will feel comfortable having law enforcement monitoring their Zoom calls.