Google Meet looks to match Zoom with key security feature

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With the planned launch of end-to-end encryption this year – Google’s move to lock down the security of meetings held on its Google Meet video conferencing app – could make the collaboration application a stronger option for consumers in regulated industries.

Sometime in 2022, the announcement that Google plans to roll out optional end-to-end encryption for all meetings could make the video conferencing application even more competitive with Zoom, which already provides security for all meetings. And Google Meet could potentially leapfrog Microsoft teams. Microsoft already offers end-to-end encryption for one-on-one calls to teams, but has not announced when the feature will be available for group meetings.

In an email to VentureBeat on Friday, Google said end-to-end encryption is “designed for meetings that require high privacy, especially in regulated industries with more stringent security requirements.”

The move would also be seen as a way to make Google Meet a more attractive option for government customers – a segment of the market where Google indicated yesterday that it wants to compete more aggressively with Microsoft.

Google has not specified when end-to-end encryption will appear in all meetings in 2022, saying only that it will come “later this year.”

As part of the Productivity app’s Google Workspace suite, Google Meet offers live-streaming to up to 100,000 viewers in their domain for video meeting, screen-sharing and business with up to 500 participants, according to Google. The company did not recently announce the size of its user base for Google Meet, but reportedly announced in April 2020 that it had more than 100 million “daily meet meeting participants”.

Current encryption

By default, all of Google Meet’s data is already encrypted in the transfer between the client and Google, the company says. According to Google, Google Meet recording data stored in Google Drive is also encrypted by default.

Google Meet offers “advanced security and privacy controls, including encryption in transit, proactive anti-abuse measures and moderation controls to secure meetings,” the company said in its comments on VentureBeat.

Google also pointed to internal privacy reviews, along with independent verification and certifications, as other key indicators to focus on security and privacy. The company said users can “trust the many layers we have to protect their privacy.”

Before the advent of end-to-end encryption, Google Meet will now get optional client-side-encryption, which is currently in beta. This feature provides customers with “direct control” of the encryption keys they need, as well as the identity provider’s ability to access the keys, according to Google.

In May, client-side-encryption will go into general availability for Google Meet customers (Business Plus, Enterprise Plus and Education Plus customers).

For end-to-end encryption, the feature goes further by ensuring that no intermediary between participants – not even the service provider or Google itself – can decrypt and read any meeting data.

Zoom first introduced end-to-end encryption for all meetings in October 2020. Microsoft, meanwhile, launched end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for one-on-one calls in December 2021.

“Initially, E2EE will only be available for one-on-one team calls,” Microsoft said in a document posted on its support website. “After gathering customer feedback to understand how this feature addresses their compliance needs and responsibilities, we will work to bring E2EE capabilities into online meetings.”

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