In a tweet, the minister of state for electronics and information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that the government would examine the breach even as the new Digital Personal Data Protection Bill was being readied.
“This is an unacceptable breach n violation of #Privacy. We will be examinig this immdtly and will act on any violation of privacy even as new Digital Personal Data protection bill #DPDP is being readied,” Chandrasekhar said in a tweet.
Earlier this week, an engineer working with Twitter shared screenshots of his phone which showed WhatsApp accessing and using his handset’s microphone at various times even as he was asleep.
The screenshots prompted several users, including Twitter and Tesla Inc chief Elon Musk, who said WhatsApp’s microphone access was “weird”.
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Responding to Chandrasekhar’s tweet, Shivnath Thukral, the director of public policy at Meta India said that Google was looking into the issue as it was a bug in Android. “We believe this is a bug on Android, Google has said they are looking into it. 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 said in his tweet.
Google did not respond to ET’s queries seeking to know whether WhatsApp’s allegations about the bug being present in Android were correct.
On Tuesday, WhatsApp said it had been in touch with the Twitter engineer who had posted the screenshot.
“Over the last 24 hours we’ve been in touch with a Twitter engineer who posted an issue with his Pixel phone and WhatsApp. We believe this is a bug on Android that mis-attributes information in their Privacy Dashboard and have asked Google to investigate and remediate,” WhatsApp said in a tweet, adding that users had full control over how WhatsApp accessed mic in the device.
“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,” the company said in another tweet.