My worry about the future of Keybase

When I heard that Zoom had acquired Keybase last week, my initial reaction was that it was a prank.

A bit of background

Keybase is a cryptography-based platform, where you control your private keys and use them to encrypt files, messages and more. It's mostly used by techy people and the privacy-conscious. Personally, I've been a big fan, and user of keybase for the past 4 years.
And Zoom, it seemed to come from nowhere when lockdown started, suddenly it was super popular: it has allowed us to stay in touch with our friends and family, for free and with excellent video quality. But it seems that nearly everyday recently, there's been another critical security issue with Zoom, they don't come across as a company that values the privacy of their users.

My Worries about the future of Keybase

This is an extract from the acquisition article posted on Keybase:

"Initially, our single top priority is helping to make Zoom even more secure. There are no specific plans for the Keybase app yet. Ultimately Keybase's future is in Zoom's hands, and we'll see where that takes us. Of course, if anything changes about Keybase’s availability, our users will get plenty of notice."

This is what worries me about the above quote:

  • "𝘖𝘶𝘳 𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘱 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘪𝘴 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘡𝘰𝘰𝘮 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘶𝘳𝘦" - Implies, that the KeyBase team will now be working on the Zoom platform, and not Keybase.
  • "𝘌𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘶𝘳𝘦" - HA! They are pretending Zoom is secure
  • "𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘯𝘰 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘤 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘒𝘦𝘺𝘣𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘱𝘱 𝘺𝘦𝘵" - this doesn't sound good
  • "𝘜𝘭𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘒𝘦𝘺𝘣𝘢𝘴𝘦'𝘴 𝘧𝘶𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘡𝘰𝘰𝘮'𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴" - FUCK
  • "𝘪𝘧 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘒𝘦𝘺𝘣𝘢𝘴𝘦’𝘴 𝘢𝘷𝘢𝘪𝘭𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘺" - Makes it sound like Keybase could one day be discontinued

And from the Zoom blog post:

  • "𝘞𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘒𝘦𝘺𝘣𝘢𝘴𝘦’𝘴 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘮 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘡𝘰𝘰𝘮 𝘧𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘺" - Yup, they bought Keybase just to use their engineers
  • "𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘤𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘬𝘴 𝘢 𝘬𝘦𝘺 𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘱 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘡𝘰𝘰𝘮 𝘢𝘴 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘤𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘭𝘺 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮" - I don't think they have any intention of creating a "truly private" platform. And the word "attempt" doesn't exactly instill confidence in me
  • "𝘖𝘶𝘳 𝘨𝘰𝘢𝘭 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘤𝘺 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘴𝘦, 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘣𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘪𝘵𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘮𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘣𝘦𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮" - When they talk about "balancing" the needs of customers, this implies that they will not be aiming for true end-to-end encryption and anonymity, it could be possible but I doubt Zoom will peruse that path

I know all this is just legal speak, and they have to word it in this way to cover themselves, but too me this is worrying. I'd come to love Keybase over the years, the team behind it are very talented, and have done an amazing job. It's going to be sad to say goodbye, but for now I'm going to enjoy it while I can :)


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