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The 9 Best Conference Call Services – TechEye

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Conference calls are still the best choice for phone meetings and communication with multiple people. Conference calls are cheap, effective, and are a simple way to get people together and share information.

Pretty much every small business should have conference call capabilities, and every large business too. Being able to conference call greatly streamlines meetings and allows for more flexible scheduling as not everyone needs to be physically present.

There are free conference calling services, such as Skype and they can be perfectly functional. However, paid services give you access to more varied features, like recording, screen share, video calling, and more.

No matter what your budget is, there is a conference call solution that will work for you. So we put together this list of the best free conference call services and paid conference call services for your business. We put together this list based on each service’s overall capabilities, ease-of-use, support options, and overall price.

The 9 Best Conference Call Services (2020)

We will cover each of the conference call services below and talk about their features, pros, cons so you can compare and make a decision.

1. RingCentral

RingCentral offers modern VoIP solutions for modern businesses. RingCentral is more than just a conference call tool, but a full-blown business phone system that operates over the internet. So with RingCentral, you also get an entire business-wide phone network for any kind of communication need.

RingCentral offers a free plan that allows up to 100 participants, although it caps calls at 40 minutes. That is not too shabby compared to some other free plans and is a good choice for individual solo entrepreneurs. Upgrading to a larger plan is also easy and they start at $19.99, a perfectly affordable monthly rate.

RingCentral’s VoIP suite offers basically every call-feature you could want, including greetings, directories, hold music, extensions, voicemail, call forwarding, conference calls, conference lines, HD video conferencing, page/intercom systems, and more. It is a cloud-based service so there is no extra equipment and not maintenance required. All you need is an internet connection.

RingCentral is an excellent VoIP conferencing solution for enterprise-level businesses and can save you a lot of money compared to a traditional PBX business phone system.

RingCentral

RingCentral offers modern VoIP solutions for modern businesses. RingCentral is more than just a conference call tool, but a full-blown business phone system that operates over the internet.


2. GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is a paid teleconferencing service that is possibly one of the best services on the market. GoToMeeting has a high-quality solution that is perfect for business owners of any size. GoToMeeting’s features are simple and to-the-point, not filled with distractions.

Unfortunately, GoToMeeting does NOT have a free basic plan. But, they do offer a free 15-day trial so you can try the software out.

There are 3 paid plans:

  • Pro – $12/month
  • Business – $16/month
  • Enterprise – Custom

The Pro and Business plans allow for up to 150 and 250 participants while the Enterprise plans have solutions for up to 3,000 people at once. All plans come with the following features:

  • HD video capabilities
  • Screen sharing
  • Dial-in lines
  • Unlimited meetings
  • Unlimited call duration
  • Private meeting rooms
  • Chat messaging
  • Mobile phone compatibility
  • App integrations (e.g. Slack)
  • Live customer support

GoToMeeting also has unlimited recording capabilities and automatic transcription features. It is an excellent choice if you have a large remote team.

Performance for GoToMeeting is strong. Many conference call services, even the paid ones, lack in audio quality. GoToMeeting has clear sound and the connection rarely jumps in and out. It may not be as impressive as BlueJeans, but it is still on the higher end of the spectrum.

A few flaws though: GoToMeeting does not have some other features that are considered standard. For example, you don’t have any hold music and no presentation/whiteboard tools, but what is there works extremely well. Conference call software can be really simple and still be good. GoToMeeting is also very affordable and has great value for its price.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is a paid teleconferencing service that is possibly one of the best services on the market.


3. BlueJeans

BlueJeans is another conference call service known for its excellent video and audio quality. Bluejeans can allow you to communicate with your team from virtually any device.

BlueJeans offers plans starting as low as $12.49 per month. The basic plan allows for 50 participants per call and has no duration limit on calls. The upgraded plan starts at $16.65 per month and allows up to 75 participants. The upgraded plan has recording and cloud storage features.

If you have a larger business, you can contact BlueJeans and create a custom enterprise-level plan, though even these plans have a limit of 150 participants. BlueJeans has one of the smaller enterprise-level conferencing solutions we have covered on this list.

BlueJeans does have some street cred though. Big companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Zillow rely on BlueJeans to host conference calls, so that is a good sign it’s a reliable service.

BlueJeans exceptional audio quality is due to DolbyVoice that it uses on all its calls. DolbyVoice is designed to make it sound like participants are placed in the same room. This setup ensures that you can hear all sounds faithfully.

BlueJeans

BlueJeans is another conference call service known for its excellent video and audio quality.


4. UberConference

UberConference is a good place to start if you are looking for a simple and reliable conference call service. UberConference is easy-to-use and offers a wide range of calling options for businesses.

You can use UberConference for free for calls for up to 10 people. You can also make as many calls as you want with a 45-minute duration limit for individual calls. The free services even come with screen sharing capabilities, call recording, HD audio/video quality, and mobile app integration. That is a lot of features, absolutely for free.

If you need more services, then you can sign up for the paid tier plans. Paid plans start as low as $15/month On this plan, the call duration limit is raised to 5 hours and comes with some extra benefits, including:

  • Call numbers
  • Analytics
  • International conference dialing
  • Dial out channels
  • Hold music
  • Voice command capabilities
  • Management tools

You can also add a toll-free number for an extra $30 a month.

The best feature from UberConference is the mobile app. The mobile app is available on Android devices or iPhone and comes free with the standard edition so you don’t even need to pay to get access to the best feature. You can do everything on the app that you can do on the desktop version so you can make conference calls on the go. Participants can also drop in from virtually anywhere.

It is fast to start up too. You can start making calls as soon as you sign up. If you have technical issues, then there is a resource portal with training articles for troubleshooting issues.

One downside with UberConference is the audio conference quality. Sometimes calls can pick up static. It is not a huge deal though and does not ruin the quality of the call.

UberConference

UberConference is a good place to start if you are looking for a simple and reliable conference call service.


5. Zoom

Zoom has become extremely popular in the past few years and has made a name for itself by supplying efficient and sophisticated video conferencing options for businesses and organizations of all stripes

Here are a few quick facts about Zoom’s plans and pricing structure. Zoom offers 4 tiers.

Basic:

  • Free to use
  • 100 participants per call
  • 40-minute max duration limit
  • 1080p HD video calling capabilities
  • Group management tools

Pro:

  • Starts at $14.99/month
  • 100 participants
  • 24-hour max duration limit
  • Recording and cloud storage
  • Admin privileges
  • Analysis and reporting features

Business:

  • Starts at $19.99 per host (10 host minimum)
  • 300 participants
  • Live support options
  • Transcription services
  • Cloud storage
  • Whitelisting features
  • Email templates

Enterprise:

  • $19.99 per host (50 host minimum)
  • 1,000 participants
  • Unlimited storage
  • Priority support
  • Business review options for executives

Most businesses will be just fine with the Basic or Pro option as these are ideal for startups and smaller teams. If you have a slightly larger business, then the Business option is relatively easy to scale.

Zoom has been extremely well received due to its excellent video conferencing capabilities and ample cloud storage. It is also particularly useful if you need to share presentations and powerpoints during meetings.

Zoom is sort of the go-to standard at the enterprise level. Their top tier Enterprise plan is used by several large organizations like Uber, Ticketmaster, and GoDaddy. Many more large firms rely on Zoom for their conference call needs.

Lastly, Zoom has excellent support options. They have 24/7 live phone support and live training sessions. The only criticism we have is audio conferencing quality can fluctuate sometimes.

Zoom

Zoom has become extremely popular in the past few years and has made a name for itself by supplying efficient and sophisticated video conferencing options for businesses and organizations of all stripes


6. FreeConferenceCall.com

As you would expect from the name, FreeConferenceCall.com offers free conference calling software. People have made over 2 billion calls using FreeConferenceCall.com, meaning that it is probably the most popular free service in the world.

All you have to do is create a free account. You can do this in seconds and start making calls immediately.

Even though it is completely free, FreeConferenceCall.com has some of the highest limits for free services out there. You can have up to 1,000 participants per cal, which is absurdly high for a free web conferencing and webinar platform.

FreeConferenceCall.com also has real-time video meeting services in addition to audio calls. Here are some other nifty features that you can use:

  • Change presentations/presenters
  • Drawing tools
  • Presentation sharing
  • Private chat rooms
  • International dial
  • Screenshare

These are the kinds of features you would have to pay extra for with different services. With FreeConferenceCall.com, you get them for $0.

You can also access your call history and archived recordings from your account dashboard, which includes reports, notes, and details.

FreeConferenceCall.com does have some paid options. You can pick and choose features to make a custom plan for your business.

  • Custom greeting – $2 per months
  • Custom hold music – $2 per month
  • Storage – 40GB for $ per month

None of these options are really required to host conference calls, though some might get things like hold music or greetings to appear more professional. Storage might be useful, especially if you make a lot of conference calls and like to go over past calls.

FreeConferenceCall.com also offers a mobile app on Android devices and iOS that lets you create, manage, and join calls from your device. Some people prefer conference calling with their mobile devices so this is a good feature.

The main drawback of FreeConferenceCall.com is its limited storage capabilities. You can upgrade storage but you have to pay extra per month.

FreeConferenceCall.com

As you would expect from the name, FreeConferenceCall.com offers free conference calling software. People have made over 2 billion calls using FreeConferenceCall.com, meaning that it is probably the most popular free service in the world.


7. Webex

Webex is made by Cisco, a global leader in IT and networking solutions. So, right off the bat, Webex has a powerhouse technology company running its infrastructures so you know it is reliable and efficient. Webex is one of the better conference calling options in the business and offers both video and audio calls.

Free:

  • $0
  • 50 participants
  • 40-minute duration limit
  • 1 GB cloud storage

Starter:

  • $13.50/month
  • 50 participants
  • No duration limits for calls
  • 5 GB storage

Plus:

  • $17.95/month
  • 100 participants
  • No duration limits
  • Alternate host options
  • Live customer support

Business:

  • $26.95 per month
  • 200 participants
  • 10 GB storage
  • Whitelisting options

Webex does offer a free plan but it is fairly limited due to the low storage and call durations. All paid plans allow unlimited conference calls and ample storage. It is worth mentioning that the highest option plan only allows for 200 participants, compared to the 1,000 allowed by something like Zoom. If you want support, you also have to at least have the Plus plan.

Webex works well for businesses of any size and is a great option if many workers are remote. The video and audio technology is crisp, clear, and runs smoothly on a number of devices. The top-tier plan is small, so there is no genuine enterprise option. But what is available is some of the best quality conference call software you can buy.

Webex

Webex is made by Cisco, a global leader in IT and networking solutions. So, right off the bat, Webex has a powerhouse technology company running its infrastructures so you know it is reliable and efficient.


8. Vast Conference

Vast Conference offers conference call services for all-sized businesses. They offer a 14-day free trial which gives you full access to the instant conference call tools. They also offer operator-assisted calls.

Vast Conference offers 4 plans:

  • Essential – $11.99/month
  • Standard – $15.99/month
  • Pro – $31.99/month
  • Enterprise – Custom

The main difference between the 4 plans is how many participants are allowed on each call. The limits are 10, 100, 250, and 500, in that order. The first three plans come with unlimited cloud storage whereas the Enterprise plans only come with 1 GB of storage per user.

One of Vast Conference’s strongest features is its intuitive interface. Setting up and executing a call is very straightforward and navigating the interface is easy, even if you have 0 technical skills.

Vast Conference is probably best suited for businesses that want personalized operator-assisted calls. Operator-assisted calls add a level of professionalism to your organization and the audio/video chat quality is top-notch.

Of course, Vast Conference is not perfect. The biggest flaw in our opinion is the mobile app. Mobile app calling is just not very good quality and calls are dropped and jump in and out frequently. That being said, you do not have to use the mobile feature and the desktop tools are very good. If mobile calling is that important to you then you probably should look elsewhere.

If you do choose Vast, you will get excellent customer service. Even the most basic plan comes with 24/7 customer support so you can get help whenever you need it.

Vast Conference

Vast Conference offers conference call services for all-sized businesses. They offer a 14-day free trial which gives you full access to the instant conference call tools.


9. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is created by—you guessed it—Google, so you know that it is built on a solid and reliable architecture. Google Hangouts is completely free for anyone to use; all you need is a Gmail account (which is 100% free).

Hangouts automatically connects to your Gmail account so you can access it directly from your mail or from the Gsuite taskbar. It also automatically integrates with your contacts list and Google calendar as well. This makes it much easier to manage your contacts and set up rooms. You can set up a conference room using your desktop, phone, and chrome extension.

Google Hangouts is used most of the time for one-on-one meetings, but it can handle conference calls for up to 25 people. Participants can easily share their screen and the platform can handle video calls as well.

If you want to get the most out of Google Hangouts, then you will need a G Suite account. It costs $6 per month for an account and G Suite has a lot of other uses, so it’s worth the purchase.

The best part of Google Hangouts is how simple and straightforward it is. But, it does have a few drawbacks.

First off, Google Hangouts is not exactly designed for business-wide communications so the quality on some calls can be poor. Also, there is no customer support so you have to rely on FAQs and forums if you run into an issue. Lastly, there is no recording option so you won’t be able to go over old calls. This feature is pretty standard in other conference call software so it’s a letdown that Hangouts doesn’t offer it.

That being said, you can expect to use Google Hangouts frequently as it also has a good chat and messaging system. If you need a reliable free video conferencing service, then Google Hangouts is a good choice.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is created by—you guessed it—Google, so you know that it is built on a solid and reliable architecture. Google Hangouts is completely free for anyone to use; all you need is a Gmail account (which is 100% free).


How to Find the Best Conference Call Services

There are a lot of conference call services out there and not all are equal. You need to find the right service with the right features for your business. So, when shopping around for a conference call service, make sure to consider the following features.

Call Limits

One of the most important parts of a conference call service is how many people it can host at once. Many services put restrictions on the number of people that can be on a call at the same time and how long the call can last.

Some providers have a free option that will give you a limited number of people and time, like 10 people and 40 minutes per call. Paid services usually have much higher call limits and durations. Some services allow up to 1,000 atrendees and unlimited calls.

You don’t need to shell out for a big fancy service if you can handle a more restricted plan. If you are part of a small business with around 20 employees, you probably won’t have to purchase a service that can hold 1,000 people at a time.

We do recommend finding a service that allows unlimited duration calls. Cutting meetings short because of an imposed time limit is highly inefficient and hard to plan around, so try to find a service that allows for unlimited calls.

Call Recording

Call recording is another useful teleconference feature that has many benefits. Not every conference call service allows for call recording, though.

Conference call services can handle recording in different ways. Some will allow you to record the call then store it locally, either on a computer, smartphone, or other devices you are using. Other services may have cloud storage options for recorded calls. Regardless of which kind you choose, it is always useful to have recorded calls so you can go over notes from past meetings.

Also, make sure you check for recording storage limits. Some services will limit the number of calls you can store and require you to upgrade to higher-level plans to get more storage space. For example, a service might limit you to 1 GB of storage but will allow you to upgrade to 10 GB.

Also, some conference call plans allow for automatic call transcription. You can turn a call into a written document. This feature makes it much easier to go over past meetings without having to comb through the audio for important points.

Additionally, if the service offers video calls, figure out if they allow video recording or only audio recording. Recorded videos can be even more useful than recorded audio calls.

Account and Call Setup

There are two main factors to look at when judging ease-of-use:

  1. Creating a new account
  2. Setting up a conference call

Some services let you create a new account and start making calls immediately. Setting up a call can take just a few seconds. For instance, if you have Gmail, then you can pull up Google Hangouts immediately and set up a reservationless call. Free and out-of-the-box conference calling software is designed with this simplicity and accessibility in mind.

If you need a custom or enterprise-level solution, the setup process is a bit more involved. This may be because you have to connect physical lines, install new software on office devices, or figure out networking details. Most likely, you’ll have to go directly through a sales agent, which takes more time.

Regardless of which route you go, starting a conference call with the service should be easy. You should be able to create calls, add participants, and schedule rooms simply and without hassle. There should also be robust customer support that you can contact if you face issues.

Video Conferencing

It is not always necessary, but we highly recommend getting a service with high-quality video conference capabilities. Video conference calls can make your meetings more effective by providing features like screen shares, presentations, and streamlined visual graphics. If you have many workers remote or do a lot of collaborations, then a video conferencing tool is practically essential. Video conference tools make online meetings more involved and let you pitch ideas and concepts more accurately than just over audio.

There are some services that specialize specifically in video conference options. If you have a large need for video services, then find a service that specializes in the tech.

Call Quality

Conference calls are much less effective if the audio of video quality is poor. Bad connections make online meetings much more inefficient because you have to keep stopping to address issues and reiterate points. This point is especially important if you need calls with a large number of attendees. The larger the group, the more bandwidth and call quality you’ll need.

The only real way to know a service’s quality is to try it yourself. If your provider has a free trial, take it so you can gauge the quality. The more you use it, the better judgment you can make.

Operator Assistance

Many conference call organizations aimed at enterprise-level businesses have to handle call participants in the thousands. So, they will include operator-assistance options. With this option, a live operator will assist with managing the conference event. Operator-assistance is useful as it will help manage large groups of participants and can streamline the process of getting things set up.

Generally, you will have to reserve an operator ahead of time and then schedule a call. The best reason to have an operator on hand is to ensure that nothing goes wrong. No corporation wants to waste time dealing with technical issues when they have hundreds of people listening on the other line.

Some services off an automated operator while others offer a boutique operator. The latter is normally more expensive than the former. Most businesses are not large enough to require operator services, but it is still something that is worth looking into.

Customer Support

As is the case with any product or service, customer support is an extremely important factor to consider when buying. This goes double for tech-related products and services that might require specialized knowledge. If something goes wrong during a call, you want a person you can call to get help.

Many services offer 24/7 support but some might only allow calls during normal business hours. Other services use a support ticket model, which can take very long to get a response. Others might have a “self-help” FAQ section in addition to any live support options they have.

In the worst-case scenario, if you can’t get a hold of a customer service rep, there should be a library of training and troubleshooting resources. It may not be a very common option, but live chat support is a new and highly favored troubleshooting model.

Price

You also need to figure out your budget. Conference call plans can range in price from totally free to $1,000s of dollar for enterprise-level solutions. However, based on our estimations, a viable solution for a small to medium-sized business optimally should cost about $20-$40 per month. $20-$40 a month should get you a decent amount of features, including but not limited to call recording, video conferencing, storage, and customer support options.

One more note: You can often get a discount on subscription costs if you sign up for an annual contract instead of a long-term one. You would be spying more all at once but over the course of a year would pay less than if you opted for month-to-month billing. Take advantage of any free trial, if you can.

Free and Paid Features

Conference calls offer additional solutions to convince people to sign up. Some of the more common features you will see include:

  • Live chat
  • Call reporting
  • Software integration
  • Toll-free numbers
  • Mobile apps
  • International conference calling
  • Custom greetings
  • File sharing and presentation tools
  • Management tools

And so on, and so on. Some features will be free but others you’ll have to pay for. There are a lot of choices, but the upshot is that you can find a genuine customer solution that is tailored specifically for your needs. You just need to figure out what you need and see which plan gives you the best value for your dollar.


Takeaway

Every business will need to make conference calls at some point; they are just an unavoidable part of today’s business environment. So, finding a good conference call service is important for virtually any enterprise. Increased demand and competition have led to a wide range of conference call services at competitive prices.

No matter if you are an individual or run a large business, conference call services are essential So do your research, and follow the tips you read in this guide, and you can find a service that works for you.




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Molly Russell inquest: social media ‘almost impossible’ to keep track of, says teacher | UK news

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The headteacher of Molly Russell’s secondary school has told an inquest into the teenager’s death it is “almost impossible” to keep track of the risks posed to pupils by social media.

North London coroner’s court heard of the “complete and terrible shock” at Molly’s school after the 14-year-old killed herself in November 2017. Molly, from Harrow in north-west London, killed herself after viewing extensive amounts of online content related to suicide, depression, self-harm and anxiety.

Sue Maguire, the headteacher at Hatch End high school in Harrow, was asked how difficult it was for a school to stay on top of dangerous social media content.

She said: “There is a level where I want to say it is almost impossible to keep track of social media but we have to try, and we have to respond to the information as we receive it.”

Describing the school’s “shock” at Molly’s death, Maguire added that teachers had warned students about the “dangers of social media for a long time”.

She said: “Our experience of young people is that social media plays a hugely dominant role in their lives and it causes no end of issues. But we don’t present a stance that they should not use it. But it presents challenges to schools that we simply didn’t have 10 or 15 years ago.”

Oliver Sanders KC, representing the Russell family, asked Maguire whether the school was aware of the suicide and self-harm-related content available to students on sites such as Instagram.

Maguire said: “At the time, we were shocked when we saw it. But to say that we were completely shocked would be wrong because we had been warning young people about the dangers of social media for a long time.”

The deputy headteacher, Rebecca Cozens, who is also head of safeguarding at the school, told the inquest once young people had gone “down the rabbit hole” on social media, it was a “deep one”.

Asked by Sanders whether there was an awareness of the type of material Molly had engaged with, Cozens said: “I don’t think at that time an awareness of the depth of it and how quickly it would snowball … and the intensity then, when you’re going down that rabbit hole it is a deep one.”

On Monday a senior executive at Meta, the owner of Instagram, apologised after acknowledging that Molly had viewed content that breached the platform’s content guidelines. Elizabeth Lagone, the head of health and wellbeing policy at Meta, said: “We are sorry that Molly saw content that violated our policies, and we don’t want that on the platform.”

Last week an executive at Pinterest, another platform Molly interacted with heavily before her death, said the site was not safe when the teenager used it.

The senior coroner, Andrew Walker, told the Russell family he would deliver his conclusions by the end of the week.

  • In the UK, the youth suicide charity Papyrus can be contacted on 0800 068 4141 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org, and in the UK and Ireland Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-8255 or chat for support. You can also text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis text line counsellor. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at befrienders.org

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Microsoft to kill off old access rules in Exchange Online • The Register

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Microsoft next month will start phasing out Client Access Rules (CARs) in Exchange Online – and will do away with this means for controlling access altogether within a year.

CARs are being replaced with Continuous Access Evaluation (CAE) for Azure Active Directory, which can apparently in “near-real time” pick up changes to access controls, user accounts, and the network environment and enforce the latest rules and policies as needed, according to a notice this week from Microsoft’s Exchange Team.

That might be useful if suspicious activity is detected, or a user account needs to be suspended, and changes to access need to be immediate.

“Today, we are announcing the retirement of CARs in Exchange Online, to be fully deprecated by September 2023,” the advisory read. “We will send Message Center posts to tenants using client access rules to start the planning process to migrate their rules.”

CARs is used by Microsoft 365 administrators to allow or block client connections to Exchange Online based on a variety of characteristics set forth in policies and rules.

“You can prevent clients from connecting to Exchange Online based on their IP address (IPv4 and IPv6), authentication type, and user property values, and the protocol, application, service, or resource that they’re using to connect,” according to a Microsoft document from earlier this year.

For example, access can be granted to Exchange resources from specific IP address, and all other clients blocked. Similarly, the system can filter access to Exchange services by department or location, or based on usernames.

Microsoft announced the replacement CAE in January, touting its ability to act fast on account revocation, disablement, or deletion; password or user location changes; the detection of nefarious activity; and other such updates, according to a blog post at the time by Alex Simons, corporate vice president of product management for the Windows giant’s identity and network access division.

“On receiving such events, app sessions are immediately interrupted and users are redirected back to Azure AD to reauthenticate or reevaluate policy,” Simons wrote. “With CAE, we have introduced a new concept of zero trust authentication session management that is built on the foundation of zero trust principles – verify explicitly and assume breach.”

With this zero-trust focus, session integrity – rather than a set session duration – is what dictates a user’s authentication lifespan, we’re told.

CAE not only aims to give enterprises greater and more immediate control over access and events, but users and managers may appreciate the speed at which changes are adopted, Microsoft claims.

“Continuous access evaluation is implemented by enabling services, like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Teams, to subscribe to critical Azure AD events,” Microsoft added earlier this month. “Those events can then be evaluated and enforced near real time. Critical event evaluation doesn’t rely on Conditional Access policies so it’s available in any tenant.”

Critical events can include a user account being deleted or disabled, a user password is changed or reset, or multifactor authentication is enabled for a user. There also are other events, such as when an administrator explicitly revokes all refresh tokens for a user or a rogue insider is detected by Azure AD Identity Protection.

Finally, for workload identities, CAE enforces token revocation for workloads, among other things, according to Microsoft. ®

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EU proposes new liability rules around AI tech to protect consumers

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The current EU rules around product liability are more than 40 years old, meaning they do not cover harm caused by drones and other AI tech.

The European Commission has outlined a set of new proposals to enable people who are harmed by AI tech products to seek and receive compensation.

The proposals were published today (28 September). They are designed to comply with the EU’s 2021 AI Act proposal, which set out a framework for trust in AI-related technology.

Today’s AI Liability Directive aims to provide a clear and comprehensive structure for all Europeans to claim compensation in the event they are harmed by AI tech products, such as drones and robots.

The EU’s directive includes rules for businesses and consumers alike to abide by. Those who are harmed by AI products or tech can seek compensation just as they would if they were in harmed any other way.

The rules will make it easier for people who have been discriminated against by AI technology as part of the recruitment process, for example, to pursue legal action.

An example of harm that may be caused by tech products is data loss. Robots, drones, smart-home systems and other similar digital products must also comply with cybersecurity regulations around addressing vulnerabilities.

The directive builds on existing rules that manufacturers must follow around unsafe products ­– no matter how high or low-tech they are.

It is proposing a number of different strategies to modernise and adapt liability rules specifically for digital products. The existing rules around product liability in the EU are almost 40 years old, and do not cover advanced technologies such as AI.

European commissioner for internal market, Thierry Breton, said that the existing rules have “been a cornerstone of the internal market for four decades”.

“Today’s proposal will make it fit to respond to the challenges of the decades to come. The new rules will reflect global value chains, foster innovation and consumer trust, and provide stronger legal certainty for businesses involved in the green and digital transition.”

Vice-president for values and transparency, Věra Jourová, said that for AI tech to thrive in the EU, it is important for people to trust digital innovation.

She added that the new proposals would give customers “tools for remedies in case of damage caused by AI so that they have the same level of protection as with traditional technologies”. The rules will also “ensure legal certainty” for the EU’s internal market.

As well as consumer protection, the proposals are designed to foster innovation. They have laid down guarantees for the AI sector through the introduction of measures such as the right to fight a liability claim based on a presumption of causality.

The AI Liability Directive will need to be agreed with EU countries and lawmakers before it can become law.

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