Security Breach: Minister to Investigate WhatsApp’s Unauthorized Mic Access, Elon Musk Reacts
A Twitter engineer raised concerns that WhatsApp was accessing the microphone on Android phones even when the app was closed. The engineer shared screenshots of the app’s microphone activity.
In response, WhatsApp claimed that the issue was actually a bug in the Android system.
It has been reported that WhatsApp is excessively utilizing the microphone on Android phones.
A user shared evidence of the app’s microphone activity on a Pixel phone, revealing that the microphone was being used at regular intervals, even when the app was not in use.
WhatsApp responded to the claim by stating that the issue is not with their messaging app, but rather a problem with Google’s software.
A Twitter engineer, Foad Dabiri, shared a screenshot that raised privacy concerns about WhatsApp’s use of Android phones’ microphones even when the app is not in use.
WhatsApp responded by stating that the issue is a bug in the Android system. The image appears to show that the app’s microphone is continuously active in the background.
According to Dabiri, WhatsApp has been using the microphone of his Android device while he was asleep and upon waking up.
The evidence provided is a screenshot that presents a detailed timeline of WhatsApp’s microphone usage.
The data shows that the microphone is used in brief intervals that last between two to ten minutes. What’s noticeable is that the phone remains inactive during this time, with no input from the user.
The tweet gained a lot of traction, with over 66 million views, and even caught Elon Musk’s attention, who replied with the comment, “That’s weird.”
Following his reply to Dabiri’s tweet, Elon Musk shared the post again on his own Twitter account and made a comment stating that “WhatsApp cannot be trusted”.
WhatsApp released a statement on Twitter regarding the microphone issue, clarifying that the problem was caused by a bug in the Android system.
The messaging app denied any inappropriate use of the microphone and suggested that the Privacy Dashboard was attributing the information incorrectly. WhatsApp has requested that Google investigates and fixes the issue.
Government to Investigate WhatsApp’s Privacy Breach, Says Minister
On Wednesday, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted that the government will investigate a claim that WhatsApp accessed the microphone of smartphone users even when their phones were not in use.
This is considered a breach of privacy, and the government wants to examine the issue. The minister also mentioned that this inquiry is happening even as a new Digital Personal Data Protection Bill is being prepared. This bill could potentially help address privacy concerns like this in the future.
WhatsApp also stated that users have complete control over their microphone settings.
The messaging app only accesses the microphone when the user initiates a call or records a voice or video note, and even then, the content is protected by end-to-end encryption.
WhatsApp claims that this encryption ensures that the app cannot hear the communications.
Several reports suggest that the issue of WhatsApp accessing microphones on Android devices is not an isolated incident.
According to a report by PiunikaWeb, several WhatsApp users on Android have reported that the green notification dot, which appears when the microphone is in use, blinks even when the app is not in use.
It is not clear whether this is a bug on Android, and Google has not yet responded to the issue.
However, the unauthorised use of the microphone on users’ devices is a cause for concern, especially when considering that WhatsApp is the most widely used messaging app.