Zoom CEO Eric Yuan told investors on Tuesday that the now extremely popular videoconferencing software will only offer end-to-end encryption to paid users, adding that free users won’t get it because “we also want to work it together with FBI.”
Yuan made the remarks during Zoom’s first quarter earnings call on Tuesday. The company faced a host of criticism earlier this year about its privacy and security as the coronavirus pandemic saw it leap in popularity.
One of the complaints was about end-to-end encryption on the service, which the company incorrectly claimed it offered and eventually apologized for misleadingly saying it did.
Last month, Zoom appeared to try and assuage those concerns by acquiring Keybase, an encryption and security service.
As part of that acquisition, Yuan said paid accounts would be given end-to-end encryption.
On Tuesday, Yuan made it clear that the reasoning for not offering it to free users: they wanted to work with the FBI and law enforcement.
“Free users, for sure, we don’t want to give that [end-to-end encryption]. Because we also want to work it together with FBI and local law enforcement, in case some people use Zoom for bad purposes,” Yuan said during the call, according to Bloomberg News.
Yuan’s quote was not met well by people online—with many directly linking the news to organizing or other activism, telling followers not to use the platform for such things if it is possible for law enforcement agencies to intercept conferences.
Alex Stamos, a security consultant for Zoom, explained the encryption situation in a Twitter thread, adding that the company was working with law enforcement to catch “the worst repeat offenders” who disrupt meetings.
Stamos added that Zoom does “not proactively monitor content in meetings and will not in the future.”
Update 6:40pm CT June 3: In a statement to the Daily Dot, Zoom said it took into account feedback from child safety advocates, civil liberties organizations, encryption experts, and law enforcement when making their plan.
“The current decision by Zoom’s management is to offer end-to-end encryption to business and enterprise tiers. We are determining the best path forward for providing end-to-end encryption to our Pro users,” a spokesperson said in part, adding: “Finding the perfect balance is challenging. We always strive to do the right thing.”