Video Conferencing: An Alternative to Big Tech Censorship and Privacy Concerns
As the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in February and March of 2020, corporations, schools and organizations worldwide scrambled to find a way to continue in-person communications without being…. In person. Seizing on the opportunity the pandemic presented, Zoom, a video conferencing solution provider quickly stepped to the forefront as the go-to solution for many.
The service quickly ran into issues however as reports of school classroom and corporate video conferencing sessions being “zoom-bombed” by unwanted participants and questions arose about the security of including personal information of minors in the zoom accounts that each participant needs to create in order to use the service (https://www.forbes.com/sites/kateoflahertyuk/2020/03/27/beware-zoom-users-heres-how-people-can-zoom-bomb-your-chat/#65ec5516618e).
In April Zoom’s servers were hacked and over 500,000 usernames and passwords were stolen and published on the dark web (https://www.forbes.com/sites/daveywinder/2020/04/28/zoom-gets-stuffed-heres-how-hackers-got-hold-of-500000-passwords/#4ca910925cdc).
Most recently a bi-partisan US Senate committee began investigating Zoom’s ties to the CCP after Zoom suspended the accounts of 3 users, one in China and two in the US after receiving pressure from the Chinese government to censor their commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-zoom-video-commn-privacy/us-lawmakers-ask-zoom-to-clarify-china-ties-after-it-suspends-accounts-idUSKBN23I3GP#:~:text=Zoom%20said%20on%20Friday%20it,affect%20users%20outside%20the%20country).
Unfortunately, these issues of security and censorship are not limited to Zoom but seem to plague nearly all the tech giants that provide the world’s online communications solutions. Fortunately, there are alternatives. The Open Source community has developed many alternatives and indeed many commercially available products had their start in the Open Source world. The issue with using Open Source solutions has always been that they can be technically challenging to implement and must be self-supported.
The benefit of using an Open Source solution is that you are completely in control of the services they offer, the security implemented and of course the cost (most are totally free to use). Because of these benefits, early on Ashcor Technologies began offering Open Source based solutions to our small business customers. This enables us to provide big business capabilities at price points that were accessible to the small and medium business markets. Ashcor installs configures and maintains the systems for our clients and charges a small fee for the service.
As the pandemic broke and area wide lockdowns were implemented the need for an easy to use, private and secure video conferencing solution rushed to the forefront of our customers’ requirements. Ashcor Technologies once again turned to the Open Source community and created the Ashcor VidConf solution based on the Jitsi Open Source project.
Leveraging the Jitsi project we were able to create a custom branded, private, and secure video conferencing service for our clients. Each implementation of the VidConf service runs on its own private cloud server, is custom branded with the client’s name and graphics and requires no accounts to be created by its participants. Administrator accounts are created for those responsible for creating and managing meetings however no personal information is stored on the server.
Just like the big tech solutions the Ashcor VidConf service offers on the fly meeting creation, open or password protected meetings, screen sharing, YouTube video sharing, YouTube streaming of meetings, in meeting group and private messaging and admin control of participants audio.
Unlike the big tech solutions, the Ashcor VidConf service doesn’t charge per session or per admin account fees or limit the number of simultaneous sessions. We don’t have access to your participant’s private information and neither do your employees. Further, we’ll never sensor your content as the server is yours and not subject to the political whims of any corporation or government. If video conferencing is now a part of your organization and you have concerns about privacy, the potential for censorship and the cost and limitations of other commercially available solutions, contact us for a free demo of our VidConf solution. Your communication should be long to you.