WhatsApp is implementing a new privacy-focused feature in its latest app updates that gives users the ability to hide their IP addresses when making voice calls. This provides protection against potential hacking by obscuring locational data.
However, routing calls through WhatsApp’s servers to mask IPs comes at the cost of some call quality degradation compared to default peer-to-peer connections.
New Toggle to Hide IP Address From Call Recipient
In the app settings under Account > Privacy, users will find a new option to toggle on “Protect IP Address in Calls.”
Enabling this routes all WhatsApp voice calls through WhatsApp’s servers rather than direct connections between devices that expose IP addresses.
Prevents Leaking Location Data
Ordinarily, direct peer-to-peer call connections allow devices to share IP address data to transmit call content.
But this can potentially reveal a user’s general location or internet service provider if intercepted. Hiding IPs provides an extra layer of privacy.
Designed for Most Privacy-Conscious Users
WhatsApp notes this specialized feature is geared toward users with heightened privacy concerns about concealing identifying data.
For most users, the default WhatsApp call encryption should sufficiently protect privacy without needing to mask IPs.
Technical Expertise Needed to Exploit IPs
Some experts argue IP data leakages from voice calls require sophisticated hacking expertise, limiting the threat for average users.
But for high-risk groups like activists, obscuring IP addresses provides extra assurance calls won’t unwittingly expose location.
No Impact on End-to-End Encryption
Importantly, routing calls through WhatsApp servers to hide IPs does not affect the platform’s underlying end-to-end call encryption.
Call content remains securely encrypted between users even when IPs are concealed from each other.
Call Quality May Be Affected
The tradeoff is that masking IPs degrades call quality compared to direct peer-to-peer connections.
But for those wanting an extra privacy safeguard, the option exists to sacrifice some call performance.
Expanded User Control Over Data Privacy
Giving users more control over their data exposure aligns with WhatsApp’s recent focus on enhancing privacy protections.
The IP address feature provides another tool for people to manage privacy risks based on their comfort level.