According to a November 8 announcement by Metaplatformsits popular messaging app WhatsApp has rolled out a new privacy feature that hides users’ IP addresses during voice and video calls. This change aims to give users more control over their privacy and prevent unintentional sharing of location data.
Are IP addresses showing too much identity during calls?
IP addresses can transmit location information and identify the Internet service provider used. In standard peer-to-peer calls, both parties see each other’s IP addresses to connect the call. Once the new setting is enabled, WhatsApp routes all calls through its servers instead of establishing a direct peer-to-peer connection.
“Once this feature is activated, all your calls will be relayed through WhatsApp’s servers, ensuring that other participants in the call will not be able to see your IP address and subsequently infer your general geographic location,” we can read in the announcement.
This approach prevents call parties from viewing each other’s IP addresses.
The setting is optional and must be manually enabled by each user in the app’s privacy settings. WhatsApp emphasized that even if IP masking is disabled, calls are still protected by end-to-end encryption.
The “Protect IP Address” feature follows another major privacy update earlier this year. WhatsApp has introduced the ability to completely block calls from unknown numbers. The “Silence Unknown Callers” setting aims to reduce unwanted contact and potential vectors for cyberattacks.
The two new privacy tools illustrate WhatsApp’s efforts to balance enhanced user security with the convenience and quality of service people expect from calling apps. Hiding IP addresses prevents inadvertent location sharing but adds latency by routing calls through WhatsApp’s servers. Blocking unknown callers increases privacy, but also potentially filters wanted calls.
WhatsApp continues to work to make its platform more private and secure.
The Facebook-owned company says it has more than 2 billion users worldwide who rely on its encrypted messaging and calls. As concerns over data privacy rise, WhatsApp hopes that features like IP address protection will ease users’ concerns while still retaining the features they want.
The “Protect IP Address” update is now rolling out to iOS and Android. Users can enable the setting by going to Account > Privacy > IP Address. WhatsApp’s latest privacy measures aim to give users more control over their information.
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