Zoom Withholds End-to-End Encryption From Users Who Use the Platform's Free Tier

By Shabana Arif on at

If you have designs on using Zoom for nefarious purposes, then you'd better be prepared to fork over a tenner for end-to-end encryption which is apparently the only barrier to acquiring the privacy feature.

Zoom has had a number of problems on the privacy front since its popularity sky rocketed during the pandemic. The company is being sued by a shareholder over allegations of fraud and overstating the security protocols in place on its service, and the platform has been riddled with Zoom bombings that have escalated to more than just harmless pranks.

The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned against using the app, and both teachers and NHS staff have been told not to use it; although that hasn't stopped the government from buying hundreds of Zoom accounts for some reason. So being seen to cooperate with the law is the kind of optics it needs right now. The move will also allow Zoom to operate within as many territories as possible,  by complying with various local laws and regulations.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan explained the decision after the company filed its Q1 earnings report, saying:

"Free users, for sure, we don’t want to give [end-to-end encryption], because we also want to work it together with FBI and local law enforcement, in case some people use Zoom for bad purpose."

Zoom's cheapest paid tier is Zoom Pro, for £11.99 per month, or £9.99 if you opt to be billed annually at £119.90. Presumably the people abusing the platform are kids with no income of their own, so paying £11.99 for the ability to Zoom bomb someone isn't an attractive enough price point. It's certainly not the only video conferencing tool that doesn't offer the service at some level, but with all of the other security issues its experienced, it's still an iffy option. [TechRadar]