The Centre on Wednesday said that it will examine the claims that messaging application WhatsApp accessed the microphone of users’ devices without their knowledge.
The Centre’s assurance came after an engineering director at Twitter, Foad Dabiri, had claimed on May 6 that WhatsApp used the microphone of his smartphone in the background. Dabiri supported his claim with a screenshot from his smartphone that showed the microphone usage of the application.
On Wednesday, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar responded to Dabiri’s tweet and called it an unacceptable breach and violation of privacy.
“We will be examining this immediately and will act on any violation of privacy even as new Digital Personal Data Protection Bill is being readied,” the minister said in a tweet.
The bill puts in place regulations for all entities that deal with the personal data of citizens. It envisages the setting up of the Data Protection Board of India, which will ensure that all entities comply with the regulations and will impose penalties on violators.
- How a cross-border love story illustrates the extent of WhatsApp surveillance in India
- Ten instances show how the digital data protection bill will undermine the RTI Act
Meanwhile, WhatsApp responded to Dabiri’s tweet on Tuesday saying that the issue most likely pertains to a bug on Android operating system in his smartphone that “mis-attributes information in their privacy Dashboard”.
The Meta-owned company said that they have asked Google, which owns Android operating system, to investigate and remediate the matter.
“Users have full control over their mic settings,” WhatsApp said. “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.”