The British Parliament is preparing for virtual debates after Easter recess and paving the way for a historic "hybrid" setting amid COVID-19 lockdown. The lawmakers are required to pass the bill on April 21 to hold virtual debates leading to unprecedented changes in the House of Commons chamber to facilitate such proceedings.
As per the current proposal, up to 120 lawmakers will be able to tune into statements and question session via video conferencing platform Zoom. However, a maximum of 50 MPs will be allowed into the main debating room, seated at a safe distance from each other. The virtual parliament will be held on April 22 when its feasibility will get tested.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will stand in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the latter is yet to fully recover from COVID-19. But the use of Zoom for parliamentary proceedings could lead to chaos since the video conferencing platform has been vulnerable to hackers.
The popularity of the video conferencing platform skyrocketed after the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders owing to the pandemic which laid bare the security flaws of the application. Reports of “Zoombombing” flooded the internet where the users complained about interruptions by uninvited guests and posting hateful messages during online sessions.
German Foreign Ministry has already restricted its use to fixed-connection computers, barring its use on mobile devices due to the lack of end-to-end encryption. A German daily had cited a memo issued by the ministry to the employees in which it highlighted “critical weaknesses” and “serious security and data protection problems” in the Zoom’s software.
On April 1, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan apologised to its users saying the company fell short of clearly conveying the encryption practices and incorrectly suggesting that Zoom meetings were capable of using end-to-end encryption. “While we never intended to deceive any of our customers, we recognize that there is a discrepancy between the commonly accepted definition of end-to-end encryption and how we were using it,” the company had said in a blog post.
(Image source: AP)