WhatsApp is introducing a new privacy feature that allows Android and iOS users to conceal their location during calls. This feature works by relaying the call connection through WhatsApp servers, effectively hiding the users’ location from other call participants.
It achieves this by switching from the usual peer-to-peer direct connection to using WhatsApp’s servers to obfuscate IP address metadata that could reveal the users’ internet service provider or broad geographic location. Despite the calls being proxied through WhatsApp’s servers for privacy reasons, the company emphasizes that it cannot listen in on the calls since all WhatsApp calls are end-to-end encrypted.
This new feature, called “Protect IP Address in Calls,” offers an additional layer of privacy and security, catering to privacy-conscious users. It is available for both iOS and Android devices and can be enabled through the settings under “Protect IP Address in Calls” in the Privacy section. The feature has been introduced as part of WhatsApp’s broader effort to enhance user privacy, which includes a “Silence Unknown Callers” setting introduced in June 2023. This setting automatically screens out calls from unknown contacts, preventing them from triggering the phone’s ringer but allowing them to appear in the call list for visibility, especially if they are important or mistakenly flagged as suspicious.
WhatsApp’s commitment to user privacy is further evident in their introduction of “Chat Lock” in May, which enables users to block others from accessing their most private conversations.
These privacy features, including “Protect IP Address in Calls” and “Silence Unknown Callers,” contribute to WhatsApp’s ongoing comprehensive work to ensure user safety while respecting and enhancing user privacy and reducing the effectiveness of real-world attacks.