Zoom Video has backtracked on an earlier decision to only offer end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to paying customers and said it would roll out the security feature to all users.
The company, which has attracted scrutiny from regulators and privacy advocates, released an updated E2EE design on GitHub – a Microsoft subsidiary that offers hosting of software development controls – on Wednesday and is planning to release the beta version to all users next month.
“We are pleased to share that we have identified a path forward that balances the legitimate right of all users to privacy,” said Eric Yuan, founder and chief executive of the firm.
“This will enable us to offer E2EE as an advanced add-on feature for all of our users around the globe, free and paid, while maintaining the ability to prevent and fight abuse on our platform.”
The E2EE feature includes the addition of an extra security layer that makes it difficult for any third-party organisation to access users’ data.
Earlier this month, during its first quarter earnings call, Zoom said it might not be able to provide E2EE to free users to avoid any illegal activity on its platform.
At that time, Mr Yuan said the company was excluding free calls to ensure it was possible to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other local law enforcement agencies to prevent some people using Zoom for unlawful activities.
“We plan to provide E2EE to users for whom we can verify identity … free users [currently] sign up with an email address, which does not provide enough information to verify identity,” the company said earlier.
However, excluding free users from security services fetched widespread criticism from various rights groups globally.