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Private Zoom Alternative Jitsi Meet Abandons Anonymity Promise

Less privacy.

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Well-regarded encrypted video conferencing app Jitsi Meet has announced it will no longer promise anonymity to its users. Jitsi Meet, popular among journalists and those seeking enhanced privacy, has long been recognized as a secure alternative to mainstream platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Its no-account-required service model has been a major draw for users – but that changed last month.

This safe haven for privacy enthusiasts now requires Gmail, Facebook, or GitHub accounts to create a meeting room on its platform, a move that has ignited debates about its commitment to solid privacy and security norms. However, these identification requirements currently only apply to those creating the meeting room, not the attendees.

Undercutting its initial vision, Jitsi Meet stated, “When we started the service back in 2013, our goal was to offer a meeting experience with as little friction and as much privacy as possible.”

The primary motivation behind creating Jitsi Meet was to champion the freedom of expression without fear. Though the firm reassures its commitment to these principles remains firm, it concedes, “anonymity is no longer going to be one of the tools we use to achieve them.”

Nevertheless, Jitsi Meet asserts that it will continue to uphold its encryption standards, safeguarding all user communications against data breaches or intrusive activities. However, the updated privacy policy now allows the development firm, 8×8, to process and store third-party account credentials as part of a strategy to combat fraud or abuse on the service.

Jitsi Meet stresses it will remain staunchly dedicated to prioritizing user privacy, claiming, “we still have no tools that would allow us to compromise the privacy of the actual audio or video content of a meeting, nor do we intend to create any.” Users uncomfortable with the account requirement are directed towards a tutorial for hosting their own secure Jitsi Meet deployment.

Currently, only Facebook, Google, and GitHub accounts can be used to initiate meetings, but Jitsi Meet has signaled openness to extending this list to other services in the future. Thus, unfolds a pivotal shift for Jitsi Meet, and what this means for digital privacy and cybersecurity will undoubtedly continue to bear close watching.

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