Zoom will extend optional end-to-end encryption to free users

Zoom said Wednesday that it would extend end-to-end encryption to users of its free service.

The popular conferencing platform had drawn criticism for its plans to provide E2EE only to its paid customers but after consulting with civil liberties groups, encryption experts, child safety advocates and others, released an updated and inclusive E2EE design on GitHub.

“We have identified a path forward that balances the legitimate right of all users to privacy and the safety of users on our platform,” company founder and CEO Eric Yuan wrote in a blog post, will “offer E2EE as an advanced add-on feature for all of our users around the globe – free and paid.”

Free/Basic users who want 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” similar to the steps required by other companies when users create accounts to “reduce the mass creation of abusive accounts,” Yuan wrote.

Zoom will roll out a beta version in July.

Calling the decision a victory, Evan Greer, deputy director at Fight for the Future, said “End-to-end encryption is one of the most important technologies keeping people safe online, and it’s essential for basic human rights.”

She “called for every company to not only “offer users end-to-end encryption wherever possible,” but to “stand up for their users rights by refusing to enter into partnerships or build backdoors for law enforcement agencies that routinely abuse their power.”

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