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Real-time voice and video chat

by Georgia Young Contributions Published on Jan 13, 2017 03:01 PM
Many widely used voice-over-IP programs, like Skype and FaceTime, use proprietary protocols and nonfree implementations.

These programs seduce free software users into using proprietary software, often two users at a time. Using proprietary voice and video chat software means that we can't be sure who is listening in, because we can't see the code. Unfortunately, Google Hangouts is also not a solution here, because it still requires users to run proprietary software.

Edward Snowden's US National Security Agency leak proved that agency was accessing targeted individuals' Skype data. We do not want to encourage the creation of a Skype compatible client, rather we encourage you to create, contribute to, or promote the use of free software replacements for Skype, and to encourage adoption and use of free VoIP, video, and chat protocols such as SIP, WebRTC, and XMPP/Jingle.

Ways to help

  • Developers are needed to work on projects that are creating free software real-time voice and video chat programs. There are several such programs, such as Ekiga, Jitsi Meet (and Jitsi Desktop), and Jami, and various projects based on WebRTC.
  • Signal, a messaging app for mobile phones, has earned widespread deserved praise as a free software encrypted voice and text communication client, but currently has a proprietary dependency on Google libraries. Helping the project remove this dependency and operate the necessary infrastructure is a high priority.
  • Not a developer? There's still a lot you can do. Using one of the free software real-time voice and video chat programs listed above is a great start. You can also help by contributing to the documentation and tutorials for such projects, as well as filing feature and bug requests.
  • Everyone can track progress and stay up to date with replacements for real-time voice and video chat on the LibrePlanet wiki.

This is just one item on the Free Software Foundation's High Priority Projects list.

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