Since Zoom Does Not Guarantee Your Privacy, Try These Alternatives

There are many free group video chat and teleconferencing apps . Many of them advertise their privacy and security features. The fact that they block access to certain communications for other users or potential hackers does not mean that your conversations are protected from the companies themselves or from other organizations with which they work.

For example, Zoom is now limiting its end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for free users. The company says this is done to curb abuse and take action against trolls and hackers, but it also undermines the privacy of those who have used Zoom meetings to communicate securely.

Other popular apps like Discord also do not encrypt user messages, even if they are on private servers. This has helped Discord remove hated and white supremacist groups from its platform, but it also means that activists, journalists, and community organizers working to build positive movements through Discord’s servers lack the privacy that such actions often require.

If you’re looking for a free and encrypted alternative to Zoom or Discord, the Video Conferencing Guide from Paul Schreiber, Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, and Yael Grauer can help you find the app that suits your needs. It is a side-by-side comparison of the 28 most used video chat apps and covers features, limitations, security, and pricing information (where applicable) for each. It makes more sense to focus on open source software as these applications are often ad-free and transparent in their code, making it easier to accurately observe what it is doing with your data.

In terms of specific suggestions, here are three open source alternatives from the Video Conferencing Guide that have received our approval.

Jitsy

Jitsi is the most “traditional” free open source video conferencing application on this list. Its interface resembles other teleconferencing apps, but with some key differences – most importantly, transparent E2EE and security features, which you can learn more about here . It also gives all participants in the call the ability to mute or remove other participants if someone enters a private meeting without an invitation.

It supports up to 75 participants in a single call and lets you record unlimited meetings, more than other teleconferencing apps, even some paid ones. Jitsi can be freely used in any browser or downloaded as an app for Android, iOS and even open source F-Droid OS. You can also join active Jitsi meetings with a simple phone call.

Signal

Signal is often favored for secure communication, and I agree with the approvals it usually gets, especially in light of recent improvements such as PIN protection. However, it is lower on this particular list due to the limited video chat features compared to other apps. Signal only supports two users during live video calls, although its video calling uses the same privacy and E2EE options as one-to-one and group text messages. Media sent via Signal is also encrypted, even in group chats, allowing you to share videos, photos, and recorded audio clips securely. Media attachments and texts can even be set to be automatically deleted after viewing or after a certain amount of time.

You may not be able to host a large group teleconference via Signal, but it is still a good resource for those who need face-to-face communication. Signal is available on Android, iOS / iPadOS, Windows, Mac and Linux.

Jami

Jami is arguably the safest video chat option at the moment. Not only is it completely free, open source and transparent about encryption measures and privacy policies, it is one of the few applications of its kind that uses a completely peer-to-peer distribution model instead of the more common server-side model. This means that all communication on Jami occurs exclusively between the devices involved – nothing is ever sent to the server. This preserves the anonymity of all users and the confidentiality of all messages, and even allows users to communicate freely while connected to small local networks without sending data over the Internet.

However, Jami’s peer-to-peer distribution model also has some quirks that may limit its viability. Since the external server does not support communication, Jami has no internal restrictions on group size, call recording, video quality, or even data rate, but you will still be limited by your device (s) and the power of your peer-to-peer connection. All users on the call will also need to use the Jami app – it doesn’t support communication with users outside of the app ecosystem like Signal and Jitsi do. However, Jami is available on Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, and even Android TV, so finding a compatible device shouldn’t be too hard.

Other options

If you are less concerned about open source, advertising, and / or the collection of user personal information, there are other free alternatives to Discord and Zoom that offer some form of E2EE, including:

For more information on their features and limitations, see the Video Conferencing Guide .

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