Video conferencing tool Zoom plans to roll out encryption for paid clients and institutions such as schools, but not for users with free consumer accounts, according to Reuters, citing a Zoom official on Friday.

Alex Stamos, a security consultant of the company which saw its users soared with the COVID-19 pandemic, confirmed that the company discussed the new plan on a call with civil liberties groups and child-sex abuse fighters on Thursday.

But Stamos said the plan was subject to change and it was not clear if any nonprofits or other institution users such as political dissidents might qualify for encryption communications.

Stamos also added that the plan involves technological, safety and business factors, drawing mixed reactions from privacy advocates.

Since Zoom allows users to join a meeting without having to register, there are potential opportunities for troublemakers to slip into sessions.

Gennie Gebhart, a researcher with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who participated in Thursday’s call, stated that she hoped Zoom would improve security more widely. At the same time, Jon Callas, a technology fellow of the American Civil Liberties Union, granted the strategy a reasonable compromise.

Safety experts and law enforcement said that sexual predators and other criminals are using encrypted communications more and more to avoid detection as well.

The video conferencing provider released a paper on its encryption plans but did not say how widely they would reach.


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