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End-to-end encryption coming to 1:1 calls on Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft is adding end-to-end (E2E) encryption to calls made on Microsoft Teams, the tech giant announced on Tuesday. An E2E encryption option will be made available to commercial users of Microsoft Teams over the first half of 2021, but it will only be supported on 1:1 calls; the company said it will add the security feature to online meetings later.

Microsoft’s announcement comes at a time in India when the country has notified rules which undermine E2E encryption on internet communication platforms. Called the Information Technology (Guidelines For Intermediaries And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, these rules require “significant social media intermediaries” to enable traceability of the originator of messages, which is considered to be antithetical to E2E encrypted communications. Social media intermediaries with more than 5 million registered users in India would be treated as “significant social media intermediaries”.

The rules also define social media intermediaries as intermediaries “which primary or solely enables online interaction between two or more users”. This definition would also cover enterprise messaging and collaboration products such as Microsoft Teams.

We have reached out to Microsoft for their comment on the same. We will update this post if we receive a response.

The announcement was part of Mircosoft Ignite, the company’s annual conference for developers and IT professionals. The company indicated that multiple global customers, analysts and the “security community” had asked for E2E encryption. “To help support customer security and compliance obligations, Microsoft is planning to support E2EE for Teams 1:1 calls to provide additional option for conducting sensitive online conversations,” it said.

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Option won’t be default: Microsoft said it would be up to organisations to decide which users should have E2E encryption. “In order to maintain compliance and have full discretion of how E2EE is used within the company, customers will have control of who in their organization can use this capability.”

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