Video Conferencing

Zoom Conferencing

The University of Toronto has provided Zoom Conferencing for the full UofT community. For details please see the following link:

Further video conferencing options provided by UofT are here:

Regarding Video Conferences and Privacy

Assume all video conferences on Zoom/Team/Hangout/Meet/GoToMeeting/Bluejeans/Skype/Webex are semi-private vs fully private.

A lot of companies are claiming that they use “end-to-end” encryption in their promotion (including zoom/teams). Most people understanding endpoint-to-endpoint as a user-to-user encrypted tunnel. This is actually not accurate in most implementations which are user-to-company server and then back to the user with the implied trust of the provider’s server to deal with your information appropriately. With the company serves as a middleman, anything can happen to your data in their “black box” and you would never be the wiser. For example, Google has built a massive business on this concept and benefits greatly by tracking and analyzing your every action. Gabriel Weinberg (CEO of Duck Duck Go) covers this well in his answer about Google on Quora:

Privacy in Most Video Conferencing Software

Placing this into context, with most of these tools your meeting is somewhat secure, but the walls may be thin and if someone really tries to listen in they likely can. 

UofT Microsoft Teams Conferencing: Teams (the UofT hosted version) is a bit more secure as it houses the private meeting room in our own “conference building” making the walls a bit thicker. What UofT pays for is special “location housing” in a designated server farm in Canada. However, this is still a black box that is potentially privy to all conversations and data where we trust that Microsoft will keep it safe and not share it.

Secure Conferencing

The only mechanism I am aware of that handles true “End to End encryption” is the Signal protocol created by Open Whisper System which is in use by their flagship Signal product, and a Swiss company called Wire who has expanded it into a full collaboration platform similar to Zoom. Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype’s private conversations also have implemented this to add privacy. Signal and related products place virtual headphones/mics on users and secure video glasses to each attendee. A key thing to remember is that without a mechanism similar to this, all aspects of your meeting/conference is only as good as the trust in the servers and platform that it is hosted on.

What to use

To evaluate which product to use, I would apply the following criteria: How sensitive is the information you plan to conference about. Or put another way, if your conference for some reason was recorded and placed in the public domain, how damaging would this be.

If your answer is “not really that damaging”, ease of use and comfort becomes the dominant choice, and the leaders in this are Zoom and Google (with those familiar with the Google ecosystem). Teams is a good runner up as it has become over the last year significantly better as Microsoft has invested significantly into the product. 

If your answer is “it is vitally important for UofT that it remain confidential”, UofT Microsoft Teams is the clear winner here.

If your answer is “absolutely cannot be shared outside of the group in the meeting”, the only option that I know of at this time is a product using the signal protocol (Wave, Signal, etc). You can learn more about it here: