Petitions Demand Zoom Changes End-to-End Encryption Stance

Technology companies and rights groups are calling on Zoom to reverse its stance on end-to-end encryption, which currently denies users of its free service the strongest possible security and privacy protections.

The video conferencing app controversially announced earlier this month that only users of its premium service would have their conversations protected by end-to-end encryption.

“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,” CEO Eric Yuan reportedly said.

Now a coalition of non-profits, tech groups and tens of thousands of internet users have called on the firm to change its mind.

An open letter to Yuan from the EFF and Mozilla, signed by over 19,000 internet users, argued that offering the strongest possible security to all users is more important now than ever, at a time when political activists and protesters may be the target of government surveillance.

“Best-in-class security should not be something that only the wealthy or businesses can afford. Zoom’s plan … will leave exactly those populations that would benefit most from these technologies unprotected,” it noted.

“Around the world, end-to-end encryption is already an important tool for journalists and activists that are living under repressive regimes and fighting censorship. We recognize that Zoom's business model includes offering premium features for paid accounts, but end-to-end encryption is simply too important to be one of those premium features.”

A separate petition sent to the firm by Fight for the Future, Daily Kos, MPower Change, Mijente, Kairos, Media Alliance and Jewish for Peace has garnered over 50,000 signatures.

It claimed that Yuan’s defense of the decision, that the firm wanted to help law enforcement, was absurd.

“People with bad intentions can just pay for the account to ensure their calls are secure,” it argued. “Meanwhile, people who can’t afford Zoom’s services are left vulnerable to cyber-criminals, stalkers and hackers.”

Zoom’s recent admission that it suspended the accounts of Chinese human rights activists after a request from Beijing will only add further weight to the calls.

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