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Google’s move to lock down security for meetings held on its Google Meet video conferencing app — with end-to-end encryption planned this year — could make the collaboration app a stronger option for customers in regulated sectors.
The announcement that Google plans to roll out optional end-to-end encryption for all meetings by 2022 could also make the video conferencing app more competitive with Zoom, which already offers the security feature for all meetings. And Google Meet may also be able to skip Microsoft Teams. Microsoft already offers end-to-end encryption for one-to-one conversations in Teams, but hasn’t announced when the feature might be available for group meetings.
In comments emailed to VentureBeat Friday, Google said end-to-end encryption “is designed for meetings that require increased confidentiality, typically those taking place in regulated industries with stricter security requirements.”
The move also seems positioned to make Google Meet a more attractive option for government customers – a segment of the market where Google said yesterday it wants to compete more aggressively with Microsoft.
Google hasn’t specified when end-to-end encryption can come to all meetings by 2022, but only says it will be “later this year.”
Part of the Google Workspace suite of productivity apps, Google Meet provides video conferencing with up to 500 participants, screen sharing and live streaming for businesses of up to 100,000 viewers in their domain, according to Google. The company recently didn’t disclose the size of its user base for Google Meet, but in April 2020 it reportedly revealed it had more than 100 million “daily Meet meeting participants.”
By default, all data in Google Meet is already encrypted in transit between the customer and Google, the company says. Google Meet recording data stored in Google Drive is also encrypted by default, according to Google.
Google Meet provides “advanced security and privacy controls, including encryption in transit, proactive anti-abuse measures, and moderation controls to keep meetings safe,” the company said in its comments to VentureBeat.
Google also pointed to internal privacy reviews, along with independent verifications and certifications, as other key indicators of its focus on security and privacy. Users can “trust the many layers we have to protect their privacy,” the company said.
Before end-to-end encryption arrives, Google Meet will then get optional client-side encryption, which is currently in beta. The feature gives customers “instant control” over the encryption keys needed, as well as the identity provider used to access the keys, Google said.
In May, client-side encryption will be generally available to Google Meet customers (Business Plus, Enterprise Plus, and Education Plus customers).
For end-to-end encryption, the feature goes even further by ensuring that no intermediary between participants — not even a service provider or Google itself — can decrypt and read the meeting data.
Zoom first introduced end-to-end encryption for all meetings in October 2020. Meanwhile, Microsoft launched end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for one-to-one conversations in December 2021.
“Initially, E2EE will only be available for one-on-one Teams conversations,” Microsoft said in a document on its support website. “After collecting customer feedback to understand how the feature meets their compliance needs and obligations, we will work to bring E2EE capabilities to online meetings.”
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