The Indian government will investigate an alleged privacy breach in which WhatsApp reportedly accessed smartphone users’ microphones while the phones were inactive. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, tweeted that the government would examine the breach as they prepare the new Digital Personal Data Protection Bill.
What Happened? Chandrasekhar called the breach “unacceptable” and a “violation of privacy.” Earlier this week, a Twitter engineer shared screenshots of his phone, which surprisingly revealed WhatsApp accessing and using his device’s microphone at various times, including instances when he was asleep.
The screenshots sparked concern among users, including Twitter and Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk, who called WhatsApp’s microphone access “weird.” “WhatsApp cannot be trusted”, the billionaire later added.
WhatsApp responded in a tweet on Tuesday, stating that they had contacted the Twitter engineer who posted the screenshot. The company believes the issue is an Android bug that misattributes information in their Privacy Dashboard, and they have asked Google to investigate and remedy the situation.
WhatsApp assured users that they have full control over the app’s microphone access on their devices. The chat giant went on to explain that once granted permission, WhatsApp only accesses the mic when a user makes a call, or records a voice note or video. The Meta-owned platform added that all communications are end-to-end encrypted, preventing WhatsApp from listening in.
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