Zoom says free users’ calls won’t be encrypted to allow law enforcement to intercept

The company says it needs to be able to allow law enforcement to take action against bad actors

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Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan says the company won’t encrypt free users’ video calls in order to allow law enforcement to intercept calls.

This comes after the company announced that it was going to add stronger encryption for its paying customers. The accounts and institutions that pay for the service will have increased encryption, which means that their calls can’t be intercepted. However, this isn’t the case for free users of the platform.

“Free users, for sure, we don’t want to give that because we also want to work together with the FBI, with local law enforcement in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose,” Yuan said during the company’s Q1 financial results.

Zoom’s security consultant, Alex Stamos, took to Twitter to clear up Yuan’s comments and said that the company faces a “difficult balancing act” when trying to simultaneously increase privacy and reduce the human impact of the abuse of its product.

Stamos is referring to the bad actors that have exploited the platform to spread hate speech and pornographic images. The bad actors who do these things usually have a free account with a lower level of encryption, which would allow Zoom and law enforcement to take action.

Zoom is essentially arguing that if these bad actors were given strong encryption with their free accounts, it would be harder for it to crack down on them and allow law enforcement to deal with them.

“Will this eliminate all abuse? No, but since the vast majority of harm comes from self-service users with fake identities this will create friction and reduce harm,” Stamos said.

To clear up other matters, Stamos said that Zoom does not record meetings silently and does not proactively monitor content.

Source: Engadget