Ethics and Online Privacy

Why Multi-Party Calls Aren’t Private

One thing which sets Kuva apart from other digital communications providers is that we do not currently support multi-party calls. This is because, given the tools we have available, it is currently difficult to guarantee the privacy of calls with multiple participants without suffering an unacceptable loss of latency, damaging video quality and hampering our customers’ ability to deliver their services to the required standard.

Every call you make or message you send through Kuva is based on a direct peer-to-peer connection between you and the person you are talking to. This is so that we can guarantee that your communications are truly end-to-end encrypted (please see our E2EE explainer for more details), ensuring that nobody – not even Kuva – can know what you’ve been talking about.

When you’re using peer-to-peer connections, adding more than two participants to a call leads very quickly to problems with video quality. Other companies get around this by routing calls through a media server, which enables them to support multiple callers without ruining the quality of the conversation. This creates a privacy problem, however, since your communications data is decrypted as it passes through the server, meaning that the owner of this server has access to the contents of your call!

You’ll notice that other companies which claim to provide E2EE video calls do not provide these same guarantees when more than two parties are involved. However, they do not always take steps to make this distinction clear to their customers, meaning that it’s easy for people to get confused about the level of privacy they are receiving. At Kuva, we want everyone to be perfectly clear about what we’re promising, so we quite simply don’t offer any services unless they can be provided with privacy guaranteed.

We’re aware that for many of our customers, multiparty calls are a desirable, or even a necessary, feature, so we’re actively working on technical solutions which will allow us to provide this facility whilst preserving true E2EE as part of our upcoming product roadmap. But until they’re ready, you can rest assured that Kuva will never release any tool or feature which might compromise the privacy of our clients.