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On April 13, 2020, the ADR Section hosted a second webinar on online dispute resolution (ODR) as the MSBA continues to help members deliver client services during the COVID-19 emergency. Eighty attendees heard from attorney mediator/arbitrators L.M.D.D. Biggs, James Motsay, and moderator Jeff Trueman during their hour long presentation, “No Need To Freak Out: A Conversation About Security Of Online Video Platforms.” The panel addressed the features of, and security issues associated with several of the more commonly used ODR technologies. A question and answer period followed.

Mr. Trueman first observed that no platform is fully secure. To lay a foundation for the fuller discussion, Mr. Trueman explained Transport Layer Security (TLS) and the ways that data can be encrypted, decrypted and reencrypted during internet transmission. He reported that some providers offer more secure end-to-end encryption (E2EE), but also noted that the degree of security desired for ODR must ultimately be balanced against the harm that might result from an unauthorized disclosure.

The presentators​ then reviewed some of the more popular platforms. They reported pros and cons associated with Zoom, WebEx, MS Teams, Blue Jeans, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype for Business and Slack. The principal features, advantages, disadvantages, and costs of each were compared, with special attention given to Zoom and recent revelations regarding Zoombombing (and the eventual Zoombanning by the Maryland Judiciary and the Secretary of State).

Discussion then turned to issues of platform management as an additional way to protect against unwanted intrusions. It was suggested that passwords be required for all participants, and provided to them in a communication separate from the meeting notice. Enabling of waiting rooms and breakout rooms, and disabling of chat, screen sharing and recording features was also recommended, both for security and to protect confidentiality. Locking the meeting can provide added protection on some platforms, although it can cause technical difficulties if someone gets disconnected from the meeting.

Issues of participant management were also addressed, which should include basic ground rules to help ensure that unauthorized individuals are not granted access by authorized meeting guests. Mediators were advised to seek representations from everyone that they will not share meeting invitations or passwords, record or take screenshots of the proceedings, or allow others to hide in the room off-camera. Early identification of the platform was also recommended so that participants can become familiar with it in advance.

This April 13, 2020 webinar can be viewed in its entirety below.  The ADR Section’s earlier Webinar on planning and preparing for online dispute resolution can be seen here.