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Power

Zoom finds a balance between privacy and policy

The company said it will enable end-to-end encryption for everyone on the service, and says it can do it without sacrificing its "ability to prevent and fight abuse on the platform."

Zoom in use

The challenges for Zoom now are similar to those Facebook faces as it tries to pivot to privacy: Privacy is a good thing, except when it protects bad guys.

Photo: Courtesy of Zoom

Say this for Zoom: The company's certainly quick on its feet. After creating a backlash for the umpteenth time this pandemic by saying its end-to-end encryption feature would be for paying customers only, then making it worse by saying that decision was made so Zoom could better cooperate with law enforcement, then tripling down by removing a Chinese dissident from the service at the request of the Chinese government, Zoom … changed its mind in a big way.

On day 77 of Zoom's 90-day plan to rethink everything about its security plans, the company said it will enable end-to-end encryption for everyone on the service, and released designs for its encryption on GitHub. And, CEO Eric Yuan said, Zoom can do it without sacrificing its "ability to prevent and fight abuse on the platform."

  • Yuan said that Zoom talked to civil rights groups, government organizations, child-safety advocates, encryption experts and more since its initial announcement a few weeks ago. Clearly, and perhaps unsurprisingly, those groups told Zoom that more encryption is better.
  • Starting in July, when you schedule a meeting, you'll be able to choose to have end-to-end encryption. (There'll be a new button in the interface.) But there are limitations: Encrypted calls can't include regular phone callers, for instance.
  • For business accounts, administrators will be able to toggle encryption either for a specific user or the whole organization.

The challenges for Zoom here are similar to those Facebook faces as it tries to pivot to privacy: Privacy is a good thing, except when it protects bad guys. Zoom may not have the same sort of public-moderation issues, but full encryption would make it harder to keep out Zoombombers or figure out who's creating accounts en masse.

  • Most of Zoom's changes in recent weeks have been about giving admins and users more control over who comes into a meeting and what they can do once they're in there. But the company still feels it needs ways to keep some tabs on the platform and its users.
  • In this case, Zoom users on free and basic plans will be asked to verify some information about themselves — like a phone number — in order to turn on the feature. Zoom is still trying to make sure it can weed out problematic users, so it's trading "info about your chats" for "info about our users."

Zoom's still tweaking the encryption system and soliciting feedback on GitHub. "Until things are out the door, there's really no reason to cut off feedback," said Max Krohn, Zoom's head of security engineering. I've seen a few people complain about Zoom collecting more information about users, but in general the reaction to this news seems to be that Zoom came around and did the right thing. Even if it took a few wrong turns along the way.

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Power

Google wants to help you get a life

Digital car windows, curved AR glasses, automatic presentations and other patents from Big Tech.

A new patent from Google offers a few suggestions.

Image: USPTO

Another week has come to pass, meaning it's time again for Big Tech patents! You've hopefully been busy reading all the new Manual Series stories that have come out this week and are now looking forward to hearing what comes after what comes next. Google wants to get rid of your double-chin selfie videos and find things for you as you sit bored at home; Apple wants to bring translucent displays to car windows; and Microsoft is exploring how much you can stress out a virtual assistant.

And remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Sponsored Content

The future of computing at the edge: an interview with Intel’s Tom Lantzsch

An interview with Tom Lantzsch, SVP and GM, Internet of Things Group at Intel

An interview with Tom Lantzsch

Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corporation

Edge computing had been on the rise in the last 18 months – and accelerated amid the need for new applications to solve challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tom Lantzsch, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corp., thinks there are more innovations to come – and wants technology leaders to think equally about data and the algorithms as critical differentiators.

In his role at Intel, Lantzsch leads the worldwide group of solutions architects across IoT market segments, including retail, banking, hospitality, education, industrial, transportation, smart cities and healthcare. And he's seen first-hand how artificial intelligence run at the edge can have a big impact on customers' success.

Protocol sat down with Lantzsch to talk about the challenges faced by companies seeking to move from the cloud to the edge; some of the surprising ways that Intel has found to help customers and the next big breakthrough in this space.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing with edge computing and IoT?

A few years ago, there was a notion that the edge was going to be a simplistic model, where we were going to have everything connected up into the cloud and all the compute was going to happen in the cloud. At Intel, we had a bit of a contrarian view. We thought much of the interesting compute was going to happen closer to where data was created. And we believed, at that time, that camera technology was going to be the driving force – that just the sheer amount of content that was created would be overwhelming to ship to the cloud – so we'd have to do compute at the edge. A few years later – that hypothesis is in action and we're seeing edge compute happen in a big way.

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Saul Hudson
Saul Hudson has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, especially in understanding and targeting messages in cutting-edge technologies. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, in helping companies to build passionate audiences and accelerate their growth. Hudson has reported from more than 30 countries, from war zones to boardrooms to presidential palaces. He has led multinational, multi-lingual teams and managed operations for hundreds of journalists. Hudson is a Managing Partner at Angle42, a strategic communications consultancy.
Protocol | Enterprise

For VMware, replacing the CEO will be hard. Working with Dell will be harder.

Two early contenders for the role of CEO are operating chiefs Sanjay Poonen and Raghu Raghuram.

Pat Gelsinger is leaving VMware after eight years.

Photo: VMware

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger's jump to Intel comes at a particularly precarious time for the company as it navigates a potential spinoff of the business from majority owner Dell.

Chief Financial Officer Zane Rowe is taking over the reins of the virtualization software provider temporarily as the board looks for a permanent replacement, according to a company statement on Wednesday. Two early contenders for the role are operating chiefs Sanjay Poonen and Raghu Raghuram, according to Morningstar analyst Mark Cash.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Protocol | Enterprise

RingCentral is battling Zoom and Teams. Here's how it hopes to win.

Despite being an underdog, the videoconferencing company is banking on key partnerships as a route to success around the globe.

"Don't count us out," RingCentral CEO Vlad Shmunis told Protocol. "Rome lost many battles, but never a war."

Image: Chris Montgomery

The Roman Empire had many enemies in its over 1,000-year history, but ultimately prevailed against most. That's why RingCentral CEO Vlad Shmunis is so apt to use it as a comparison.

The company is in the midst of a fierce competition for dominance in the rapidly growing cloud-based communications industry against Zoom, Microsoft and others. But despite its position as a relative underdog, Shmunis is confident the company will emerge victorious in the end.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

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