A look at how Jitsi became a ‘secure’ open-source alternative to Zoom – The Next Web


The coronavirus pandemic pushed people to stay in their homes, and in turn, forced them to use video conferencing products. In the past couple of months, Zoom became an almost indispensable app, Facebook had to step up and make a rival product, and Google made its enterprise conferencing product free for everyone.

Amid this video conferencing boom, Zoom’s security and privacy-related problems made a lot of people skeptical about using its products. Plus, the company wasn’t transparent about communicating its mishaps — this forced a lot of people to look for free open source products, and Jitsi emerged as a perfect solution for them.

Apart from being open-sourced, Jitsi benefited from endorsements by a few highly-regarded names in the security community. In March, a privacy-focused browser Tor tweeted about the product as an alternative to Zoom.

In 2017, in an interview with WIRED, Edward Snowden talked about using his own Jitsi server. Later, in a security conference, a lot of people saw Snowden using Jitsi to deliver a talk.

The product suddenly exploded during the pandemic. That meant Emil Ivov, Jitsi’s founder, and the rest of the team had to work even longer hours to keep the ship running.

Jitsi’s History

Ivov originally built Jitsi as a project in 2003, when he was studying at the University of Strasbourg. Later, he spun off the project into an app and kept building it for desktop. In 2009, he started a company called BlueJimp (not to confused with BlueJeans, another video conferencing app) around it.

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In 2011, Google open-sourced WebRTC communication standards to facilitate things like video-conferencing over browsers. The team took advantage of that and built a browser-based product, and so Meet Jitsi was born.