Zoom is under fire in India and it plans to win back the government's favour with end-to-end encryption

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Zoom is under fire in India and it plans to win back the government's favour with end-to-end encryption
Zoom is currently trying to win back the Indian government's favour as the centre restricts the use of the video conferencing app for official communicationUnsplash

  • The video conferencing app Zoom is talking to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to change their mind about whether its platform is safe for official use.
  • Zoom's chief information officer (CIO) Harry Moseley told CNBC-TV18, that the app has plans to introduce end-to-end encryption to win the favour of the Indian authorities.
  • Meanwhile, the centre is mulling over building a 'desi' video conferencing app for its official communication.
The Indian government is cautious about using Zoom for official communication and is warning others to stay away as well. That includes both professional or personal users.

The centre is also mulling over developing its own 'desi' video conferencing mobile application built by developers based out of India to replace Zoom. On the other hand, Zoom is also trying to stay in the running with plans of adding end-to-end encryption.

It's currently in conversation with the Home Ministry, trying to find ways to boost the app's security controls, Zoom's chief information officer (CIO) Harry Moseley told CNBC-TV18, that the app has plans to introduce end-to-end encryption to win the favour of the Indian authorities.
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“The British Parliament, a 700-year old organisation, recently approved Zoom for their communication, that's just one of many examples around the world where government agencies have approved it. So we do expect to the change of mind with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA),” he said.

'Zoom bombing' and how it's no longer a joke
Zoom had around 10 million users in December, which sky-rocketed to over 200 million in March. The sudden influx of demand soon started to highlight some worrying loopholes in the system. The sudden uptake in 'Zoom bombing' — an uninvited intrusion on video calls— soon sparked privacy and security concerns all over the world.

For instance, the conference by Broadcast Audience Research Council ( BARC) was hacked midway is images of a nude dancing man. In other instances, hackers have intruded on virtual classes, PhD dissertations and even Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.
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“We do have a plan to introduce end-to-end encryption. We're currently working on those plans. But I would like to point out that if you take people who are connected through a digital device, the audio, video and content is all encrypted here on my laptop and is being decrypted at the destination point. And, is never decrypted on the way to that destination point,” said Moseley.

In India, the government has restricted the use of Zoom for official purposes and issued advisories through the Cyber Coordination Center (CyCord) and the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in).

Some right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevek Sangh (RSS), have welcomed the crackdown on Zoom and are asking for a thorough investigation along with incentives for domestic players to participate.
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A 'desi' alternative to Zoom
According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the government is planning to build a 'desi' video conferencing app. The selected solution will receive ₹1 crore in the first year and additional support at the rate of ₹10 lakh per year for the next three years towards operation and maintenance of the application.

This solution from the concept stage will be scrutinised for various aspects, including data security features. The selected application will get a contract for use by Central and state government entities for video-conferencing purposes for a period of four years.

The developers will also be free to market their product to entities outside the government organisations. Nonetheless, Zoom seems optimistic that it will find its way back into the Indian government's good books.
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See also:
This couple just had a big fat Indian 'wedding from home' over a Zoom call

Zoom and Google Hangouts banned by large companies and government organizations

How to ensure privacy and security while using Zoom
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