Google Duo/Google Hangouts/Google Meet
Review date: Sept. 8, 2021
Google Duo, Google Hangouts, Google Meet. The various video call options from Google can get a little confusing. Here's the breakdown: Google Duo is a simple, free person-to-person video call app for up to 32 participants. Google Hangouts is free and allows for video calls up to 10 participants, as well as phone calls and text chats. Google Meet is their business-grade video conferencing option for up to 250 participants, built into the paid version of G Suite. There you have it.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Google Duo is end-to-end encrypted, which is great. Hangouts and Meet aren't, but do use simple encryption, which is only OK. Both Hangouts and Meet require a strong password to login, and you can (and should) set up passwords for sensitive calls or meetings. Duo does not require a password as it is a simple calling app. Users can (and should) passcode protect their phone to keep unwanted people from accessing the app. Google is a big company that does a pretty good job on security. When a Google Project Zero researcher found a security vulnerability in Signal, Facebook, and Google chat apps, Google fixed the bug promptly. Google is a huge ad company though, so know that they can collect data on your use of these apps (not necessarily the content of your calls and messages, but things like how and when you use these apps) and then potentially use that to feed their vast targeted advertising business. They say they never sell this data or share it without a users’ consent. Fortunately, Google does give users a variety of privacy controls to delete and limit the collection of personal data. We've linked to those below. Go check them out and use them to give yourself as much privacy as you can.
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
In January 2021, Google Project Zero security researcher Natalie Silvanovich discovered a logic bug in Google Duo that would allow audio or video to be transmitted without user consent. The bug was promptly fixed. Yes, one Google entity called out another one for a privacy vulnerability!
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Google offers simplified privacy & safe use information.
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
End-to-end encryption: Duo. Only encryption at rest and in transit: Hangouts, Meet.
Both Hangouts and Meet require a strong password to login. Duo does not require a password as it is a simple calling app. Users can and should passcode protect their phone to keep unwanted people from making calls.
Google updates the services a few times a year
Google has a bug bounty program for security vulnerabilities
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