According to a Nov. 8 announcement by Meta Platforms, its 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 the unintentional sharing of location data.
Do IP addresses display too much identity on calls?
IP addresses can convey location information and identify the internet service provider being used. In standard peer-to-peer calling, both parties see each other’s IP addresses to connect the call. With the new setting enabled, WhatsApp routes all calls through its servers instead of establishing a direct peer-to-peer connection.
“With this feature enabled, all your calls will be relayed through WhatsApp’s servers, ensuring that other parties in the call cannot see your IP address and subsequently deduce your general geographical location,” reads the announcement.
This approach blocks the parties on a call from viewing each other’s IP addresses.
The setting is optional and must be manually activated by each user in the app’s privacy settings. WhatsApp stressed that even with IP hiding disabled, calls are still protected by end-to-end encryption.
The “Protect IP Address” feature follows another major privacy update earlier this year. WhatsApp introduced the ability to block calls from unknown numbers altogether. The “Silence Unknown Callers” setting aims to reduce unwanted contact and potential cyberattack vectors.
Both new privacy tools exemplify 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 potentially filters out wanted calls too.
WhatsApp continues working to make its platform more private and secure.
The Facebook-owned company claims to have over 2 billion users worldwide relying on its encrypted messaging and calling. As concerns over data privacy grow, WhatsApp hopes features like IP address protection will ease users’ concerns while maintaining the functionality they desire.
The “Protect IP Address” update is rolling out now on iOS and Android. Users can activate 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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