WhatsApp helps users avoid government attacks

WhatsApp helps users avoid government attacks

WhatsApp has announced(Opens in a new window) the launch of proxy support, which allows users to continue using the service even when their connection has been blocked or disrupted by actors such as authoritarian governments.

A proxy effectively acts as an intermediary that sends data between the user and WhatsApp. The move comes after the Iranian regime killed access to the popular messaging app in an attempt to stop the organizing of protests over Masha Amini(Opens in a new window)the 22-year-old woman who died after being detained by the country’s morality police.

In a blog post, WhatsApp referred to the government’s internet shutdowns in Iran and said it hopes the proxy will “help people wherever there is a need for secure and reliable communication.”

WhatsApp said the proxy servers are set up by volunteers and organizations that are “dedicated to helping people communicate freely.” Anyone interested in setting up a proxy server can see the steps to take to do so here(Opens in a new window).

Users can find proxy servers by searching through social media or search engines for “trusted sources” that have created a proxy, WhatsApp added. Once found, users must enter the name of the server on the app.

The messaging app emphasized that users connected to a proxy will still benefit from messages being end-to-end encrypted, meaning that WhatsApp, its owner Meta or proxy server owners can read sent messages.

WhatsApp users can enable proxy by going to the settings menu on the latest version of the app. The instructions for Android and iOS users are slightly different; you will find a guide here(Opens in a new window).

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A WhatsApp spokesperson told(Opens in a new window) Ars Technica that it had “started to set [proxy] feature into the app in the final months of last year,” and that it “regularly consults” with human rights organizations on “free speech and privacy issues,” adding that it had done so during the development of the proxy feature.

According to Independent VPN review site Top10VPN(Opens in a new window)blocked social media in 23 countries last year amounted to 26,865 hours, and 710 million people worldwide were affected by social media shutdowns last year.

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