As I mentioned in last week’s blog, certain companies, like C2, were well positioned to continue operating business-as-usual despite the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns. And some businesses are thriving, especially the ones that facilitate remote work and learning like Zoom. Even before the lockdowns forced videoconferencing into the spotlight, Zoom was making significant inroads against previous champion Webex. Zoom’s stock price has doubled in 2020 thanks to the pandemic lockdown despite a variety of negative publicity about glaring security holes and privacy issues, and new ones are being discovered on a regular basis.
“Who’s zoomin’ who?”
According to a recent lawsuit filed by Consumer Watchdog on behalf of Washington D.C. consumers, Zoom marketed its platform as having “end-to-end encryption” (E2EE) despite the fact that at the time it had no such thing, and even now does not have this feature. According to Zoom, E2EE will actually only be available to it’s paying customers (at some point in the future – Zoom hasn’t released the feature yet), and here’s the rub: implementing E2EE for videoconferencing actually curtails certain features like the ability to dial into a videoconference from a land line or cell phone, stream the call to YouTube, or save the meeting to a cloud recording. I don’t know how many of you are streaming your Zoom content to YouTube, but at least one out of every 2-3 Zoom calls I’m on, someone is phoning into the meeting, and many of my clients find the cloud recordings invaluable.
Keep in mind, none of Zoom’s market competitors have E2EE – not Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Blue Jeans nor Webex, and the ones that do – Facetime and Signal – aren’t really comparable in terms of business features. The more important question is this: Do you need E2EE? If you are working in a regulated industry and regularly exchange protected and/or sensitive information (medical, financial, legal/criminal matters to name a few) via videoconference, your calls should be fully encrypted. That being said, I can guarantee you that before any of Zoom’s shortcomings came to light plenty of folks probably had no idea that their videoconferences weren’t completely encrypted, nor were they cognizant of the fact that they should have been from the start.
For the rest of us that aren’t required by law to encrypt our communications, should we still insist on having it? We may not need it, but it should always be available to anyone who wants it. There is still plenty of debate as to whether privacy is a fundamental human right, or a privilege. Make no mistake, controlling someone else’s privacy is all about power, and as we can see from plenty of examples lately in social media, it doesn’t take much to abuse that power. Don’t be so quick to trade privacy for cost savings – it may not be easily bought back with any amount of money or convenience saved.
Image courtesy of Miles Stuart from FreeDigitalPhotos.net