Zoom, the video call conference program is now making a full 180-degree turn, claiming it will give all users full end-to-end encryption. Zoom says that it won’t only be restricted to paid users, but even free users. However, the companies inability to fix its past mistakes calls into question whether or not its latest promise of providing all users with encryption is legitimately true.
The company stated in June that providing encryption to free users would pave the way for illegal activity, making it harder for the FBI and other agencies to spy on users. They said that it would provide encryption to paid users since they are able to prove their identity making it easier for legal purposes. For free users, simply their email address they use to sign up doesn’t cut it.
In order to make the new “end-to-end encryption” for all available, Zoom says that it’ll now require free users to provide more information such as phone number and verify it via an SMS, as the press release reads,
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. Many leading companies perform similar steps on account creation 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.
The company has faced intense public backlash over its privacy when it was revealed it was falsely marketing calls being encrypted when they weren’t. The company desperately tried to clean up its image via a number of PR students, which ultimately fell on deaf ears. The latest attempt by the company at a leadership level is to hire a former Facebook executive which it hopes will help.