Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Thursday, June 18.

1. Zoom now working on encryption for all subscribers, free included

Zoom announced late yesterday that it now plans to offer end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to all its users, not just those with paid subscriptions.

What happened:

  • As Zoom evolved from an enterprise tool to something used for consumer calls between friends and family and hosting anything from trivia to raves, Zoom’s security and encryption protocols and holes came under fierce scrutiny.
  • It faces a lawsuit on overstating its privacy, and not disclosing flaws (Reuters).
  • As part of Zoom’s security improvements, it announced it would develop end-to-end encryption, but only as a premium feature.
  • 20,000 people signed on to an open letter from Mozilla and the EFF, and Zoom finally announced it would take a step in the right direction for privacy and security for all.
  • Now, Zoom has a new approach to offering E2EE: “To make this possible, Free/Basic users seeking access to E2EE will participate in a one-time process that will prompt the user for additional pieces of information, such as verifying a phone number via a text message,” explains Zoom CEO Eric Yuan.
  • Yuan has previously blundered an explanation about encryption on an earnings call that was widely reported.
  • Zoom encryption is expected to roll out in July as an early beta phase, with no timeline set beyond that.

Why it matters:

  • The EFF has some compelling detail on why people who need strong security and privacy are often people who can’t afford to pay for features that are billed as premium.
  • From the letter: “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.
  • “…Zoom’s 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.”

Zoom’s widening problems:

  • Given you need to provide a phone number to access E2EE, super privacy-concerned folks may still object. Signal does seek the same, though.
  • And Zoom’s controversial decision to shutter Chinese activist accounts, despite not being in China, is affecting how it is perceived, and if it is a neutral platform or level competitor if government intervention is blatantly possible.
  • The problem for Zoom in all of this is that it has about 700 engineers and several China-based subsidiaries in China, per Axios, offering much lower-cost R&D.

2. Huawei reportedly delays production of upcoming Mate 40 series flagship (Android Authority).


3. What we want to see in the next Google Home Nest speaker (Android Authority).


4. The 2019 Razer Blade Stealth series was a huge mess, but the 2020 13.3-inch series is back on track (notebookcheck.net).


5. Epic Games and Tinder join Spotify in protesting Apple’s App Store fees (The Verge).


6.  T-Mobile explains why its network went down, hard, on Monday (The Verge).


7. The Nikola EV truck startup saga is pretty out there: After a damaging Bloomberg report, now the founder is mad online and wants the reporter fired (Jalopnik). What’s even weirder is that it doesn’t really matter: Nikola just needs to produce a working truck.


8. Even more reason not to rely on Google for diagnoses: symptom-checkers are convenient, mostly wrong (Vice).


9. Why we aren’t using UV to disinfect everything, yet (OneZero).


10. LPT: Birds can give you a lot of useful information just by listening to them (r/lifeprotips).


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