In the early months of the 2020 pandemic, Zoom quickly became the tool for public conversations and business communications. Whether it was a local bible study, a business meeting, or professors addressing their students, Zoom helped make all of that possible. But Zoom was also found to be immensely weak when it came to security. Users could easily break into meetings and record what was discussed without much struggle, leading to “Zoombombings,” racial harassment, among other problems.
Activists and academics encouraged Zoom to make changes to how they code their program, and they finally did. The CEO announced that they would do better and seek to protect user content. However, in doing so, they ended up ignoring a significant group; free consumers.
In a call with analysts, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan told privacy analysts that “Free users for sure we don’t want to give [end-to-end encryption] because we also want to work together with FBI, with local law enforcement in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose.”
These comments struck a strong note with said analysts, who immediately denounced the decision. “Basic security shouldn’t be a premium feature that’s only available to wealthy individuals and big corporations…” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocacy group.
This doesn’t mean that normal calls are not encrypted, but their encryption exists on the most basic level, and that any and all information gathered by them is not shared with any external parties, according to a spokesman from Zoom.