Despite strong first-quarter earnings, Zoom is under fire for limiting end-to-end encryption privileges to paying customers.
Rather than a money grab, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said giving away encryption privileges would enable widespread unlawful use of the video conferencing platform.
During a call with investors on Tuesday, Yuan also said he planned to work closely with the FBI and other government officials to limit illegal activity on the platform.
Yuan’s rationale has left privacy and consumer watchdogs scratching their heads.
“This is a bizzare [sic] policy to say the least,” Pat Walshe, founder of data protection consultancy Privacy Matters, tweeted on Wednesday. “Perhaps [Zoom] should have said ‘Y’all free users are just potential criminals. Y’all don’t deserve e2e protection.”
Alarmed by Zoom’s policy, some paying customers are responding to the news by canceling their accounts.
“I just canceled my [Zoom] subscription for my law firm, which I had recently purchased,” attorney Joel Alan Gaffney tweeted on Wednesday.
Tweeting at Zoom, Gaffney wrote: “I no longer wish to support your company now that you have said you will not offer encryption to free users so you can cooperate with law enforcement.”
Complicating matters, consumers are witnessing a rapid escalation in the presence of law enforcement in response to the civil-rights protests sweeping the nation.
Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former chief security officer and a current security adviser for Zoom, did his best to defend the company, on Twitter.
“This is a hard balance,” he tweete d on Wednesday. “Zoom has been actively seeking input from civil-liberties groups, academics, child safety advocates and law enforcement. Zoom hopes to find a common ground between these equities that does the most good for the most people.”
Trying to set the record straight, Stamos insisted all Zoom users enjoy a degree of encryption; the company is not “proactively” monitoring meeting content.
“Zoom is dealing with some serious safety issues,” Stamos added. “When people disrupt meetings (sometimes with hate speech, CSAM, exposure to children and other illegal behaviors) that can be reported by the host. Zoom is working with law enforcement on the worst repeat offenders.”
In addition, Zoom said revenue growth was up a whopping 169% between the first quarter of 2019 to the same period, this year.
The pandemic made Zoom a household name. It is now central to the professional, academic, and social lives of millions of people.
During its earnings call, Zoom boasted 769 customers paying over $100,000 for its enterprise services.Consistent with previous practices, Zoom did not reveal active user figures. Analysts estimate the platform’s mobile app boasts approximately 173 million monthly active users.