Zoom considered harmful

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007fa367bb6310>

Hi friends, I would like to gently discourage use of Zoom, especially as a maker community.

You may have heard of a Zoom hack recently - it doesn’t matter when you read this, I would wager there’s a new hack every month, so my statement will remain true. Though we don’t know what happens on zoom’s servers (they use closed-source code) we can see that by their track record they are not interested in privacy. (For example their end-to-end encryption ISN’T).

My employer, the Government Digital Service (part of the Cabinet Office), has banned Zoom for internal use for this reason.

Zoom is also not an inclusive service, in that the apps only work on a laptop, iphone, or android. In my world of raspberry pis, screenreaders, and open hardware devices, this is a ludicrous and unacceptable limitation - why Zoom can’t roll out a web app and join us in the 21st century is beyond me. (yes I know you can install the zoom browser plugin, I don’t count that because it’s just as inaccessible and just as not working on my raspberry pi)


Friends, I have a solution in mind. A free (as in beer AND freedom), open-source, audited by the security industry option that works everywhere a web browser does. http://meet.jit.si (Jitsi ALSO have ios and android apps, if you were worried)

I urge you to try it for your next call - there is no registration needed, you can password protect your chats, it’s all there. (The only feature of Zoom’s it doesn’t have is breakout rooms, but you can make as many jitsi rooms with as many people in as you want, which mitigates this)

I’d be happy to do any organisation and documentation the SLMS need to give it a go (though it’s easier than installing Zoom, just make up any unique name and type it after “http://meet.jit.si”, eg http://meet.jit.si/my-great-slms-room <- a working example I just made up)

Choose free software! <3


We have been using Discord for online SLMS meet-ups in case you don’t want to use zoom

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@soulnafein I’m a big fan of Discord, web-based and push-to-talk as a first-class citizin - really great tool choice.

We investigated their privacy and security policies, too: Very impressive for a private company - they seem to do the right thing.

From what I know, Zoom have released statements claiming to be on top of the issue and to be taking it seriously. I do recognise your point, I’d also mention that they have introduced password protection and a ‘waiting room’ option since then . I doubt the meeting will be left open, there will probably be the waiting room option. Also, you can actually access a zoom meeting from any browser, without any sign in or account. I’m not sure how others feel but I’m a little on the fence about it being an issue I feel we need to act on given the current context. I’m open to being swayed though

The Makerspace is welcome to use my Jitsi server on request for free. Just DM me. The board games group used it a few weeks ago. Functionally, it is the same as using the meet.jit.si server operated by Jitsi but without the bandwidth restraints of a “public” server, plus you have a whole CPU to yourself. It is hosted in Frankfurt on SSDnode.

Eventually, the Makerspace might want to install our own jitsi server on our hardware.

The other benefit is there is no 40 minute time limit like there is on Zoom. Conversations are not recorded on my server and neither (to my knowledge) are user data.

You CAN password protect sessions at the creator’s option, but I usually don’t bother.

One limitation is that Jitsi ONLY works with Chrome or Firefox browsers. The Android/Apple apps work quite well.


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Oh yes, Jitsi uses real end-to-end encrypton.

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Thanks Martin. Though I’m confidant about meet.jit.si’s security, it’s great to have a 100% secure option - in the same way that this Discourse is wholly on SLMS-controlled hardwar.

I’d love for the SLMS to think about this for future meetings, I think for this Saturday meeting we need to do what is most accessible and recognised by as many members as possible. That’s my personal perspective on this!
It would be fun to try and organise some craft nights or put a regular games night in the diary that people can start turning up to, so we can all get used to a new tool such as Jitsi.
@fincheee thanks again for the offer of your server!
I wonder if people would people be up for ‘stress’ testing the server and maybe getting Jitsi some exposure? Maybe we could do a call out at some point and see how many makers we can get on one call :smiley:


Absolutely right, @hannahintech, we should take a measured approach. I’d be very keen to stress test Jitsi - I’ve only had calls with about 8 people so far, but they don’t have any user limits.

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It does feel like after SLMS got rid of Slack, Discourse never really replaced it properly and that Telegram never got the traction, it would make sense to use Discord now for SLMS comms, as well as Discord, and maybe consider renaming Discord as the forum so that people don’t get confused.

There was this idea that Discorse could be our everything and that just wasn’t health for the community many people called out issues like the difficulty in making decisions, Dermot has pointed out how difficult it is to interject in a conversation.

I’ve noted how difficult it is to find documentation due to the abysmal search system.

It would make sense to have a forum, real time chat, content platform/wiki and a blog.

  1. That way real time chat can be used to ping for peoples attention, and discuss things collectively as well as using video/audio features.

  2. Forum for longer form discussions that need documenting, something real time isn’t good at.

  3. A content platform or wiki for official documentation of processes, policies, practices, guides, how-tos, etc…

  4. A blog for announcements and news.

Currently all of this happens in one place and it doesn’t work well, even if it is passable.

Let me suggest starting another topic for this? I made one here: