In the past few weeks, Indian Whatsapp users have complained about receiving fraudulent calls. Several users got multiple spam calls and messages from international numbers. The numbers were from Kenya (+254), Ethiopia (+251), Vietnam (+84), Indonesia (+62) and Malaysia (+60).
While interacting with the media on May 9, the IT minister, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, stated, “The Ministry is taking note of it, they will send them (WhatsApp) a notice”.
He even wondered how scammers and spammers are getting the numbers of WhatsApp users, “How are they able to identify which numbers are on WhatsApp? Are they doing it blindly? Is it some database they have got? If there is a database it is a violation of privacy, or if not are they are doing it through a bot (by) sending messages to random numbers. (This) is certainly something platforms will be asked to look at”.
In response to the ongoing scam and the government’s concerns, WhatsApp released an official statement which states, “protecting the privacy and security of users is fundamental to Meta and to WhatsApp. Our users are at the heart of everything we do, and we are fully aligned with the government’s goal of keeping users safe”.
The messaging app talked about educating users about spam, “we continue to provide several safety tools within WhatsApp like Block & Report, consistently build user safety education and awareness, as well as, proactively weed out bad-actors from our platform”.
They even talked about how the app is improving its spam filtering system. “we have quickly ramped up our AI & ML systems to bring down such incidents significantly. Our new enforcement will reduce the current calling rate by at least 50 per cent and we expect to be able to control the current incidence effectively. We will continue to work relentlessly towards ensuring a safe experience for our users”.
Recently, WhatsApp was being questioned on how it can use the microphone without contest of the user. This was discovered after a Twitter employee Foad Dabiri claimed that WhatsApp had been accessing the microphone on his Pixel phone while he sleeping.
In repose to the claims of the Twitter employee, WhatsApp stated, “We believe this is a bug on Android that mis-attributes information in their Privacy Dashboard and have asked Google to investigate and remediate”.