SharePoint Online Block Download Policy for Teams Meeting Recordings

Block Download Policy covered by Syntex-SharePoint Advanced Management License

Microsoft launched the Syntex-SharePoint Advanced Management license into preview in late January 2023. The license is now generally available and cost $3/user/month. Since news about the license emerged, people have been figuring out if the features covered by the license are worth the cost by examining details of the features it enables. Now a new block download file policy is available for Teams meeting recordings.

Blocking Downloads and Teams Meetings

In February, I covered the Block Download Policy for SharePoint Online, a feature in Syntex-SharePoint Advanced Management to limit users to browser access when interacting with content stored in sensitive sites. Blocking downloads for Teams recordings is a similar feature that’s now available in preview. The big difference is that the block download policy applies tenant-wide for all Teams recordings created after the block comes into force in both SharePoint Online sites (for channel meeting recordings) and OneDrive for Business (for personal meeting recordings).

Clearly Microsoft is responding to a customer need to make Teams meeting recording more secure. Blocking downloads removes the worry that someone with access to a recording of a sensitive meeting can download it before the meeting file automatically expires.

Site-Wide Block Download Policy Applied With PowerShell

As noted above, the block is tenant-wide. No GUI is currently available in the SharePoint Online admin center, so management of the block is by running the Set-SPOTenant cmdlet from the SharePoint Online management module.

Make sure that you run an up-to-date version of the module (I used 16.0.23408.12000) as otherwise the Set-SPOTenant won’t support the necessary parameters. Keeping modules like Exchange Online management, Teams, SharePoint Online, and the Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK up to date is an important task. Ideally, you should check and update modules monthly. As it’s always nice when PowerShell looks after PowerShell, here’s a script to automate the process, including tidying up by removing old module files afterward.

To impose the block, use Set-SPOTenant to set these parameters:

  • BlockDownloadFileTypePolicy from $False (the default) to $True.
  • BlockDownloadFileTypeIds to “TeamsMeetingRecording.” This is the only value currently supported by the cmdlet.
  • ExcludedBlockDownloadGroupIds to the identifiers of security groups whose members you want to exclude from the block download policy. You can’t use Microsoft 365 groups to exclude accounts. This parameter can be left blank if you want the policy to apply to all accounts. If you want to specify multiple security groups, do so in a comma-separated list.

Here’s the command I ran in my tenant to enable the block policy and check its settings afterward:

Set-SPOTenant -BlockDownloadFileTypePolicy $True -BlockDownloadFileTypeIds TeamsMeetingRecording -ExcludedBlockDownloadGroupIds "dc637020-4b0f-4f65-bdf0-3c7dbe8a83e7"

Get-SPOTenant | Format-List BlockDownLoadFile*, ExcludedBlock*

BlockDownloadFileTypePolicy   : True
BlockDownloadFileTypeIds      : {TeamsMeetingRecording}
ExcludedBlockDownloadGroupIds : {dc637020-4b0f-4f65-bdf0-3c7dbe8a83e7}

It can take up to a day before a policy update becomes effective across SharePoint Online. Before it is effective, anyone can download a Teams meeting recording (Figure 1).

The option to download a Teams recording is available

Block download file policy
Figure 1: The option to download a Teams recording is available

When the block download policy is effective, users don’t see the download options for recordings created after the effective date (Figure 2).

The Block download policy stops users downloading Teams meeting recordings
Figure 2: The Block download policy stops users downloading Teams meeting recordings

It’s important for users to understand that they are only blocked for new recordings. At least, while the feature is in preview. However, when the block download policy is generally available, a background agent will search for older Teams meeting recordings stored in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business and mark the files as blocked for download. Although I can see why customers would want this to happen, the fact is that many of the Teams recordings will age out and disappear in a relatively short period unless users take explicit action to retain the files.

Available in Preview Now

SharePoint Online’s block download policy for Teams recordings is available in preview. After Microsoft makes the block download policy generally available, you’ll need to buy some Syntex-SharePoint Advanced Management licenses to continue using the policy or the block download policy will stop working (perhaps much to the relief of some users!).

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