UK Government defends using Zoom to hold cabinet video conferences

Josh Peachey's picture
by Josh Peachey

Questions have been asked of the government's use of video-conferencing app Zoom for cabinet meetings after the prime minister tweeted a picture in which a meeting ID was visible.

The video-conferencing app has been widely used by schools, companies and other individuals to contact others during the lockdown. 

But some experts have criticised the security of Zoom. Researchers discovered that earlier versions of the app used to send analytics data to Facebook without making this clear to users, and it also doesn't use end-to-end encryption, which would have made it impossible for the developer to listen in to chats.

The app is quicker to set up for different government departments than their own secure teleconferencing options, and they use the paid-for version meaning that government meetings are password-protected. 

The UK government does have highly secure video teleconferencing at key sites, including the intelligence agencies.

In response, UK officials say that there's a need for communicating in the middle of fast-moving events, and that most government work to do with the coronavirus is unclassified and anything highly classified is communicated over secure systems.

"In the current unprecedented circumstances, the need for effective channels of communication is vital," a government spokeswoman told BBC News.