We all remember the January 2021 scandal, when WhatsApp was accused of sharing users’ data with Meta, and how frequently WhatsApp has reiterated its commitment to user privacy. In a comprehensive article on its help centre homepage, WhatsApp assured its customers that neither it nor Meta had access to their private messages or phone conversations. WhatsApp also claims that its communications are encrypted from beginning to finish. End-to-end encryption, for the uninitiated, ensures that your WhatsApp conversations remain private between you and the recipient at all times. Not even WhatsApp has access to this data.
But the popular instant messaging service found itself in the middle of another data privacy scandal when a Twitter developer alleged that WhatsApp had been accessing his phone’s microphone while he was sleeping. The tweet quickly went viral, and Twitter CEO Elon Musk even responded, saying, “WhatsApp cannot be trusted.” Given Musk’s obvious disdain for Meta, this comment was hardly unexpected.
Nonetheless, the widely shared message caused some users to worry, and discussions ensued over the possibility of WhatsApp’spying’ on them using microphones.
But does the corporation really pay attention to what you say? In only five bullet points, here’s the whole tale.
Musk claims that you can’t put your faith in WhatsApp
Twitter employee Foad Dabiri posted an image of the Android dashboard with the caption, “WhatsApp has been using the microphone in the background while I was asleep and since I woke up at 6AM (and that’s just a part of the timeline!)” When did this happen
Elon Musk cautioned his followers, “WhatsApp can’t be trusted,” by retweeting the same message.
WhatsApp has requested that Google look into this
In a tweet, WhatsApp said that the problem was being caused by an Android bug. They also claimed to have communicated with a Google Pixel phone-using engineer. WhatsApp contacted Google since the phone in question was a Pixel, and the company promised to look into the situation.
WhatsApp clarified in a second tweet that users have “full control” over their microphone settings and that the app only accesses the mic during a conversation or while recording a voice note or video.
The tweets from the business went as follows: “Over the past 24 hours we’ve been in contact with a Twitter engineer who reported a problem with his Pixel phone and WhatsApp. We consider this to be a flaw in Android’s Privacy Dashboard and have requested that Google look into and fix it.
A bug, according to Google.
A Google representative has verified the existence of a problem in Android that caused misleading results. According to the spokesperson’s statement to Engadget, the flaw in Android is responsible for misleading privacy dashboard indications and alerts for WhatsApp users. We are currently working on a solution for users.
The government of India intervenes
The Indian government will investigate the accusation that WhatsApp covertly uses users’ microphones, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Wednesday. In a tweet, he called it a “gross invasion of privacy.” Even though a new law to safeguard sensitive personal data held in digital form is now in the works, we will be looking into this right away.
The WhatsApp Data-Sharing Policy
The privacy of WhatsApp’s users has been called a “top priority,” and the company has vowed to protect them via its policies. The corporation claims on its website, “We can’t see your personal messages or hear your conversations, and neither can Meta: Neither WhatsApp nor Meta can read your messages or hear your calls with your friends, family, and coworkers on WhatsApp. Your conversation is private and will remain that way. That’s because end-to-end encryption safeguards all of your private communications. Each conversation is clearly labelled with our promise that security will never be compromised.
So, if you take WhatsApp at its word, the firm says it is not spying on you since it only utilises the microphone on your device while making a call or recording a video or voice note. In order for WhatsApp to utilise your phone’s microphone for the aforementioned functions, you, the user, must first grant the app permission to do so. WhatsApp claims the problem with the popular tweet is due to an Android bug. So far, no reports of this information being visible to iPhone users have been received.