Zoom to offer end-to-end encryption to all users beginning in July

Zoom to offer end-to-end encryption to all users beginning in July
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Video conferencing platform Zoom announced Wednesday that it would offer a beta version of end-to-end encryption for both free and paying users beginning in July. 

Zoom previously was contemplating only offering such encryption to paying customers and not those using its free video conferencing tool. While the company boosted encryption for all users in April following widespread security and privacy concerns, Zoom initially was not certain if it would roll out the much stronger encryption for nonpaying customers. 

Beginning in July, hosts of Zoom meetings will be able to toggle the encryption service on and off since it limits some users from joining meetings, and account administrators will be able to enable or disable the enhanced security program at the account and group level. 

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Zoom CEO Eric Yuan announced the news in a blog post on Wednesday, writing that the encryption program would “balance the legitimate right of all users to privacy and the safety of users on our platform.”

Yuan wrote that Zoom had consulted with government representatives, civil liberties groups and child safety advocates, among others, in putting together and rolling out the encryption program. 

“This will enable us to offer E2EE [end-to-end encryption] 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,” Yuan added. 

The company posted its encryption program on GitHub in May in order to solicit feedback from customers, cryptographers, nonprofits and other groups. Zoom posted an updated version of the encryption program on GitHub on Wednesday.

The focus on enhancing encryption came after Zoom began facing a wave of security and privacy concerns in March as a huge influx of individuals began using the video conferencing tool for everything from work meetings to classes to happy hours during COVID-19 shutdowns. 

Among the main problems was the phenomenon of “Zoom bombing,” which involved an individual or group gaining access to a meeting and using offensive words or images to disrupt it. 

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Everything from a Holocaust memorial event to a meeting of election officials to children’s classes were interrupted with Zoom bombings, which prompted harsh scrutiny of the company by members of Congress, the FBI and other top officials. 

The company also faced allegations that it was compromising the privacy of users by sharing data with Facebook and other third-party groups without the consent of users. Zoom took steps to stop sharing data with Facebook in March and later rolled out “Zoom 5.0” to enhance encryption and include default passwords.

-Updated at 3:45 p.m.