WebRTC Community Update - Privacy fines and enhancements all around
Happy New Year, and welcome to a new edition of our WebRTC Community update!
In this post, which marks our first in 2023, we’ll dive into AV1 support in Safari, privacy enhancements and privacy fines, as well as say goodbye to our dearly, beloved Snap Camera.
If you have questions, please ask in the comments!
AV1 support sighted in the wild for Safari!
User voluntas on Twitter reported the first sighting of AV1 support in Safari in the wild! While only in Tech Preview this is exciting news for the future of video conferencing.
The advantages of AV1 are that it is an open-source codec, which means that it is freely available for anyone to use and improve upon. Additionally, AV1 is highly efficient, resulting in less bitrate for better quality, which greatly improves perceived video quality while keeping potential packet loss in check. AV1 is also designed to be more resilient against blocking artifacts and other compression-related issues. In addition, it is supported by major tech companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla.
While actual production usage of AV1 is still far ahead of us, I’m excited because early support in browsers today greatly increases the chances that bugs and other issues can be weeded out well in advance of this becoming reliable for production use cases.
GetDisplayMedia now requires a user action to activate in Chrome, improving privacy
In the future, Chrome will now require a user action to call getDisplayMedia. This is a great step forwards for WebRTC privacy for users, as unintentional screen sharing can be one of the most effective ways of committing fraud and invading the privacy of users in WebRTC.
Customers of Daily who use Prebuilt will not be affected by this change, and we suspect most of you using a custom implementation already use a button to activate screen sharing. However, if you for some reason delay the call using setTimeout, have an event based system between clicking the button and calling getDisplayMedia which loses the user action, or force start getDisplayMedia remotely, it’s a good idea to check wether your implementation still works once M111 rolls out.
Epic Games hit with a huge fine from FTC over privacy issues with their voice chat
Epic Games is hit with a huge fine from FTC over violating children’s privacy law, changing default privacy settings, and tricking users into making unwanted charges. For video conferencing services, the most interesting part of this fine is the video calling part:
Epic’s settings enable live on-by-default text and voice communications for users. The FTC alleges that these default settings, along with Epic’s role in matching children and teens with strangers to play Fortnite together, harmed children and teens. Children and teens have been bullied, threatened, harassed, and exposed to dangerous and psychologically traumatizing issues such as suicide while on Fortnite.
Despite this and reports that children had been harassed, including sexually, while playing the game, the company resisted turning off the default settings. And while it eventually added a button allowing users to turn voice chat off, Epic made it difficult for users to find, according to the complaint.
...the proposed federal court order will prohibit Epic from enabling voice and text communications for children and teens unless parents (of users under 13) or teenage users (or their parents) provide their affirmative consent through a privacy setting.
Make sure you think about the privacy implications in your video conferencing apps, especially if your service, either on purpose or inadvertently targets minors. Otherwise the FTC can and will hit you with some really scary fines…
Snap Camera is no more
The very popular Snap Camera application, allowing users to turn into a potato, or put on funny hats in video conferencing apps, is shut down. This has long been a way for video calling applications to enable background replacement without having to resort to custom development for the users that wanted it.
Luckily, users of Daily can use our API to enable background blur in their calls without any additional costs! Get in touch with our support team if you need help setting this up.
We hope these updates are useful for you! Is there anything in particular you would like to see us talk about next time, or do you have any questions? Let us know below!
This tech update is based on information from WebRTC Insights, a biweekly newsletter that provides information on things happening in the WebRTC ecosystem. Learn more about WebRTC Insights.