Due to the current healthcare crisis, we can not meet in real life anymore, unfortunately. This development forced us all towards (free) services such as Zoom, Skype and Hangouts. While they all offer the same sort of functionality, end-toend encryption, there’s plenty of concerning information to find on privacy-related matters.
Last weekend, Vice published an article on how Zoom is removing a bit of code that transfers your data directly to Facebook. In the statement by Zoom, they apologize and mention that they remain firmly committed to the protection of their users’ data. (1) It’s only that someone, VICE, in this case, found out that what they are doing that made them apologize and change their code. One can’t argue that they are committed to their user’s privacy when installing Facebook’s SDK’s without any second thought. SDK or Software Development Kit’s are a useful tool which can speed up the process of creating an application, it’s a pre-written instalment code. So, given that Zoom is one of the biggest out there, can that be an excuse? We need services to be ahead of such problems, not overtaken by them. The privacy of users should be embedded in the design of a service.
Okay, so what can you use? While googling for alternatives, a Bits of Freedom article popped up. In the article, Evelyn Austin mentions Jitsi, an open-source video conferencing tool. Our project group, Hiveminds, are also reliant on new tools in the new abnormality and started using this service.
For Jitsi you do not need to sign up, you do not give personal information and the service can be used in your browser; instead of having to download the application and giving it access to a variety of folders on your computer (when installing Zoom you have to, for example, give the application access to your download folder). Starting a call is also considerably easy, just go to the website, https://meet.jit.si and create a name for the call and press Go. If you want to make sure there are no unwanted guests. you can easily set a password. Why still use Zoom?