Zoom has announced that free users will get end-to-end encryption, after facing backlash for previously saying the security feature would only be for paid users.
The platform will start offering end-to-end encryption with a beta next month for both paid and free customers. Admins will be able to turn the feature on or off at any point to allow traditional phone lines to join meetings.
Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, said earlier this month that free users’ calls wouldn’t be encrypted in order to allow law enforcement to intercept calls. Yuan had said that only paid customers would be getting enhanced encryption.
“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 had said during the company’s Q1 financial results.
The company has now changed its stance and notes that the enhanced encryption will be available to everyone.
“To make this possible, Free/Basic users seeking 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,” the company states in a blog post.
Zoom notes that many leading companies perform similar steps on account registration to reduce the mass creation of abusive accounts.
“We are confident that by implementing risk-based authentication, in combination with our current mix of tools — including our Report a User function — we can continue to prevent and fight abuse.”
Although the beta for the end-to-end encryption will be available in July, it’s unknown when the feature will roll out to all users.
This latest update comes as Zoom has faced significant backlash for its privacy and security practices. The platform gained millions of users worldwide amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and has since vowed to fix its security flaws.