Will Zoom Bring Encryption to the People Who Need It Most?

June 8, 2020
Eric Yuan

Zoom Video Communications, Inc.

55 Almaden Boulevard, 6th Floor
San Jose, CA 95113


Dear Mr. Yuan,

While we were pleased to see Zooms plans for

end-to-encryption, we are extremely surprised and concerned by the news that Zoom plans to offer this protection only to paying customers. We understand that Zoom is rightfully concerned about curbing child sexual abuse material (CSAM), but restricting end-to-end encryption to paid accounts is not the right solution.

As your own growth numbers demonstrate, Zoom is one of the most popular video-call platforms available. Recently, Mozilla conducted a U.S.-based survey that reiterated Zooms popularity among consumers. In this context, Zooms decisions about access to privacy and security features have enormous impact.

We strongly urge you to reconsider this decision given the following considerations:

  • Tools like Zoom can be critical to help protesters organize and communicate their message widely. Activists should be able to plan and conduct protest-related activities without fear that these meetings, and the information they include, may be subject to interception. Unfortunately, recent actions from law enforcement and a long history of discriminatory policing have legitimized such fears, making end-to-end encryption all the more critical.
  • Best-in-class security should not be something that only the wealthy or businesses can afford. Zooms plan not to provide end-to-end encryption to free users will leave exactly those populations that would benefit most from these technologies unprotected. 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.
  • While we recognize that Zoom is concerned about the potential misuse of its platform, offering end-to-end encryption to paid accounts only is not the solution. Such an approach ultimately punishes a larger number of users from families using the tool to communicate, to activists using the tool to organize who would benefit from the security of an end-to-end encrypted system.
  • Your rationale for this decision could undermine encryption more broadly at a time when the U.S. Attorney General has publicly battled with companies that refuse to weaken their products encryption in order to provide the government a back door and while Congress is considering legislation that jeopardizes the future of encryption with the EARN IT Act.

In Mozillas letter to you in April, we highlighted our conviction that all users should have access to the strongest privacy and security features available. The value of privacy and security is even more critical today, especially for political organizers and protesters who may be the target of government surveillance.

Thank you for your openness to our previous recommendations we especially appreciate that you have already made important changes, such as prioritizing user consent to be unmuted. Our hope is that you consider this feedback and immediately adjust course.

Sincerely,

Ashley Boyd
Vice President, Advocacy and Engagement
Mozilla Foundation

Gennie Gebhart
Associate Director of Research
Electronic Frontier Foundation