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[liberationtech] Becoming convinced google talk/hangout is an acceptable communication tool for many threat models was: Re: Google Hangout the new, better skype? Was Re: Skype redux

Brian Conley brianc at
Sat Jan 5 11:54:29 PST 2013

Apologies for the much delayed response to this thread.

Chris, I'm not convinced, if you're not worried about the US or NSA, that
someone who is concerned about skype should also be uncomfortable using
Google hangout. Hangout on phones is not useful for transmitting files, so
a primary vector of skype attack is nonexistent. As i understand it,
content of your communication is stored in the cloud and not logged on the
device so another vector is also nonexistent.

For a user in Syria, the question is "why shouldn't I use skype if there is
nothing else broadly adopted that is better?" It seems to me there is a
broadly adopted "better" solution (Google talk/hangout). It is certainly
not perfect for many reasons laid out here.

The best solution, as a community, is to simultaneously attack on two
fronts, developing an easy to use privacy preserving p2p chatting tool and
pressuring currently large market players to change their practices.
On Dec 21, 2012 6:36 PM, "Christopher Soghoian" <chris at> wrote:

> I have asked Google's policy team, repeatedly, about what capabilities
> they have for intercepting Hangout conversations, and I always get the same
> vague no comment.
> Although Google is a clear transparency leader when it comes to reporting
> aggregate stats on the # of requests that they receive, they still suck
> when it comes to actually discussing their technical surveillance
> capabilities, as well as the legal standards they follow when providing
> surveillance assistance.
> If you aren't comfortable using Skype (for good reason), then you
> shouldn't use Hangout either.
> On Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 9:52 AM, Brian Conley <brianc at>wrote:
>> So I guess the question is, is there a more/similarly convenient
>> video/audio chatting tool that can be advocated as a standard?
>> Skype is a problem, hands down. But people will continue to use it,
>> particularly in situations they see as nonthreatening (rightly and wrongly)
>> because it is convenient and maintains weight in the marketplace.
>> This is a long way of asking, is Goohke Hangout functionally better? Is
>> anything else? Or, how do we get someone to develop a convenient p2p
>> chatting tool that is also pleasurable to use?
>> B
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