Zoom to Completely Encrypt Video Calls

John Lister's picture

Zoom is to completely encrypt video calls at all times for most users. It will mean neither Zoom itself nor law enforcement agents or security services can access the content of calls.

At the moment, Zoom encrypts the data that flows between individual participants on a call. However, it's Zoom's own servers which generate the encryption key issued to each participant.

That means it's technically possible for Zoom to decrypt calls. While Zoom insists it's never had any intention of doing so, it does leave it open to pressure or legal threats from law enforcement officials to get access to calls between suspects. It could also be pressured by authoritarian governments who believe opponents are using the service to speak confidentially.

Zoom Unable To Listen In

With the change, the device of the host (the person who initiates the call) will generate the encryption key. The relevant details will go directly to participants and won't pass through Zoom's servers. That theoretically means Zoom physically can't decrypt the data that carries the content of the call. (Source: independent.co.uk)

The change will initially affect calls (on both paid and free accounts) with up to 200 participants. It will cover all mobile apps (though iOS apps are pending Apple approval) and the standalone software on PCs and Apps. It will also cover Zoom Rooms, a setup that involves dedicated videoconferencing hardware.

Some Features Incompatible

Right now the change won't affect users who take part in calls via a web browser, though that may follow later as this is described as "phase one." The new feature is listed as a technical preview, meaning Zoom will ask for feedback for the next 30 days. It won't be enabled by default and instead call hosts will need to switch it on.

Some features won't work with the end-to-end encryption. These include the ability to carry out polls, record a meeting's video online rather than on a local device, and allowing participants to join a planned call before the host has arrived.

Users can check whether the end-to-end encryption is enabled by checking a green "shield" logo in the top left corner. It will show a tick for the standard encryption (done via Zoom) and a padlock for the end-to-end encryption. (Source: theverge.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a smart move by Zoom? Do you worry about video calls being secure? Should communications services have to have a way for law enforcement to monitor calls with the appropriate court order?

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