Administrative Control Through New Setting in Teams Meeting Policy
Updated: June 28, 2021
Background blur for Teams meetings has been available since September 2018. Background effects, better known as the ability for users to choose blurring or background images to use during Teams meetings (Figure 1) appeared in early April. The availability of background effects created some issues for Office 365 tenants, such as making sure that people select appropriate images. Microsoft didn’t have an answer at the time, so they went with the solution of providing a set of curated images for people to choose from. However, it’s easy to upload custom images and use those images instead.
Policy Controls First Followed by Client Updates
In Office 365 notification MC212361, Microsoft explains how tenant administrators can control background effects on a per-user basis. Two changes are needed. First, a new setting (VideoFiltersMode) can be updated in Teams meeting policies to control which (if any) video effects are available to users. Policies can be updated now in preparation for a future update for the Teams client that will respect the setting. All current Teams clients support video filters.
Updating the VideoFiltersMode Setting
The available values for the VideoFiltersMode setting are:
- NoFilters: No filters are available.
- BlurOnly: Background blur is available (but only if certain hardware conditions are met).
- BlurAndDefaultBackgrounds: Background blur and the set of curated background images selected by Microsoft can be used (essentially, what happens today).
- AllFilters: All filters are available, and the user can upload custom images. This is the default value for meeting policies.
Some will doubt the need to control how people use background effects and say that they trust people to do the right thing. The default value of AllFilters means that people can continue to use background images without any restriction. Others will welcome the opportunity to exert control. For example, these organizations can set VideoFiltersMode to BlurAndDefaultBackgrounds to allow users to use blur and effects but not be able to upload new images through the GUI. We don’t know yet if this option will stop custom images being picked up if they are distributed to client workstations via group policy or other mechanisms. Figure 2 shows what happens when the meeting policy applied to an account only allows background blur to be chosen.
Teams meeting policies are updated through the Teams admin center. In this case, the video filters setting is in the Content sharing section of a meeting policy (Figure 3).
Updating Teams Meeting Policies with PowerShell
You can also update the value for the video filters setting with PowerShell. Like all Teams policies, the PowerShell cmdlets to manipulate meeting policies are available in the Teams PowerShell module. After running the Connect-MicrosoftTeams cmdlet to connect to the Teams endpoint, to list the existing policies and the assigned value for VideoFiltersMode, run the Get-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy cmdlet:
Get-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy | Format-Table Identity, VideoFiltersMode Identity VideoFiltersMode -------- ---------------- Global AllFilters Tag:RestrictedFunctionality NoFilters Tag:Allow Meeting Recording AllFilters
To update a policy, run the Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy cmdlet:
Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity RestrictedFunctionality -VideoFiltersMode NoFilters
Once the meeting policy is updated, it can be assigned to users as normal through the Teams Admin Center (Figure 4). It can take up to 24 hours before a change made to a policy is picked up and applied by clients.
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