Great news for secret tribunals and activists and employees rising up: Signal now enables 40-person encrypted video calls. Good to keep in mind if you don’t want to risk law enforcement or foreign governments or your boss or tech companies sifting through your stuff.
Today, Signal posted a detailed description of the open-source software Signal Calling Service which it developed to encrypt such large group calls. Rather than the clunky process of sending 40 videos directly between users, or the more vulnerable process of “mixing” all of the media together through the server, Signal used “selective forwarding,” where the server simply passes media from one person to all participants. They developed a version that can handle a higher volume than available open-source SFUs, which required a more complicated process that you can get into here.
Now that we’re approaching year two of the pandemic, you may be familiar with how little we should trust that other companies’ “end-to-end encryption” claims actually mean that the communication will be private (Zoom, WhatsApp). The boss can check out your video conferencing activity on the company account, which extends to recording your Zoom meetings, listening back, downloading transcripts, and even checking out private DMs you send in the app. (Toobin was on a Zoom call!) Zoom could be dropping in, itself, as indicated by Justice Department allegations that a China-based security executive had monitored and cut calls referencing Tiananmen Square. Zoom has notoriously logged a ton of security flaws. Video services can generally honor government subpoenas for private content like stored recordings, which Signal can not, because it just doesn’t have them. You could go through a bunch of steps to feel safer, or just get on the app that doesn’t hand over data.
If you’re asking what you could possibly do at work or talking to family that would be humiliating or incriminating enough to interest management or a foreign government, I dunno, the pandemic got weird!