Our phones are with us all the time, which can be scary if you think about it because it means that there is always a microphone and camera potentially watching and listening to us all the time.
Thankfully, platforms like Android have security measures in place to prevent these privacy intrusion, but unfortunately, it seems that WhatsApp has a privacy bug that’s kind of scary. This is according to a tweet by Twitter engineer Foad Dabiri who discovered that WhatsApp on Android is constantly accessing the phone’s microphone even when the app isn’t in use.
WhatsApp has been using the microphone in the background, while I was asleep and since I woke up at 6AM (and that's just a part of the timeline!) What's going on? pic.twitter.com/pNIfe4VlHV
— Foad Dabiri (@foaddabiri) May 6, 2023
Usually when apps need to access your phone’s camera or microphone, they need to ask for the user’s permission. Given that WhatsApp lets users make video and voice calls, we can safely assume that most people would grant the app permission to access those features of our devices.
What’s worrying is that the app is accessing the microphone even when not in use, meaning that it is constantly listening to the user’s conversations. It is unclear how big of a flaw this bug is, but if there is a potential to be exploited, it could in theory allow hackers to listen in on our conversations.
WhatsApp hasn’t commented on the issue and right now, it seems to be an Android issue. Hopefully the company will have a fix for the problem ASAP.