Friday, April 12, 2024
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Google Acknowledges Android Bug That Incorrectly Showed WhatsApp Accessing Microphone, Issues Simple Fix


Back in May, WhatsApp was found exercising microphone access in the background on some Android devices. Twitter engineer Foad Dabiri had alleged that the instant messaging service had accessed the microphone on his Google Pixel device for prolonged periods. WhatsApp at the time had posted a tweet on the issue and claimed it was an Android bug that mis-attributed information in its Privacy Dashboard. Now, Google has acknowledged the Android bug and provided a simple fix.

Google’s Android Developers Twitter account posted about the issue early Wednesday, citing the bug that was affecting the Privacy Dashboard on the platform. “A recent Android bug affecting a limited number of WhatsApp users produced erroneous privacy indicators and notifications in the Android Privacy Dashboard.” Google seems to have addressed the issue and has directed users to update the WhatsApp app for a quick fix.

Last month, Dabiri had detailed that WhatsApp had used his Pixel 7 Pro’s microphone throughout the night while he was sleeping and continued to do so when he woke up, raising concerns about privacy. Then Twitter CEO Elon Musk had retweeted Dabiri’s post at the time, adding “Trust Nothing, Not even nothing.” Other WhatsApp users also complained of the app using the microphone despite not having the permission to do so, posting about it on Twitter and Pixel support page.

Additionally, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Rajeev Chandrasekhar had also jumped in on the issue, saying that the IT Ministry “will act on any violation of privacy even as new Digital Personal Data protection bill (DPDP) is being readied.”

Meta’s Director and Head of India Public Policy, Shivnath Thukral had responded to the IT minister’s Tweet, pointing towards WhatsApp’s clarification. “Your calls and voice notes are protected by end-to-end encryption so we cannot hear the microphone in any case. We’re aligned on safeguarding privacy,” Thukral had added.

In addition to acknowledging the issue and confirming it had asked Google to investigate and fix the bug, WhatsApp had at the time clarified the app’s microphone usage. “Users have full control over their mic settings. Once granted permission, WhatsApp only accesses the mic when a user is making a call or recording a voice note or video – and even then, these communications are protected by end-to-end encryption so WhatsApp cannot hear them,” WhatsApp had said.

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