WhatsApp users on both Android and iOS can now conceal their calling location, but is this a favorable development?


WhatsApp has launched a new functionality, “Protect IP Address in Calls,” enabling users to hide their location during calls by redirecting call traffic through WhatsApp’s servers.

WhatsApp is rolling out a novel feature enabling users to conceal their location during calls. Termed “Protect IP Address in Calls,” this functionality allows users to mask their location from call participants by rerouting call traffic through WhatsApp’s servers. Accessible on both Android and iOS devices, the feature represents an additional layer of privacy and security, especially tailored for the platform’s privacy-conscious users, according to WhatsApp.

Explaining the feature further, Meta, WhatsApp’s parent company, discloses that “Protect IP Address in Calls” is a new setting within WhatsApp, orchestrating a transition from the conventional peer-to-peer direct connection between callers to a connection that leverages WhatsApp’s servers. By doing so, it conceals IP address metadata, preventing others from accessing information about users’ internet service providers or general geographic locations.

Activation of the ‘Protect IP Address in Calls’ feature can be done in the privacy section of WhatsApp settings. When enabled, calls will traverse through WhatsApp’s servers instead of directly between users and their call counterparts, safeguarding the user’s IP address from being visible to others.

The utility of this feature lies in making it challenging for others to track a user’s whereabouts, especially in situations involving spam calls where scammers attempt to locate the user. Additionally, as an IP address can be linked to personal information like browsing history and online purchases, hiding it enhances protection against potential exposure or exploitation of such information.

Despite the heightened security, Meta acknowledges some limitations. Users might experience delays or reduced call quality once location sharing is disabled, as routing calls through WhatsApp’s servers could introduce slight latency. Nonetheless, Meta emphasizes that calls will remain end-to-end encrypted, assuring users that even when relayed through WhatsApp servers, the platform cannot eavesdrop on their calls.

This feature aligns with Meta’s broader initiative to fortify the privacy of WhatsApp users. In June 2023, the company introduced the “Silence Unknown Callers” option, automatically filtering out calls from unfamiliar contacts. Enabled users won’t receive notifications for blocked calls, though these calls will be visible in the call list for review, allowing users to identify any important calls inadvertently flagged as suspicious. By implementing this feature, WhatsApp aims to significantly reduce the risk of exposure and protect users from unwanted calls, fraudulent activities, and zero-click attacks exploiting the automatic processing of incoming caller data.

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