New Feature Prevents Internet Blackouts and Shutdowns from Limiting Free Speech
WhatsApp, the globally renowned messaging platform, has recently unveiled a new feature designed to empower its users to bypass government efforts to limit their access to communication on its platform.
WhatsApp Takes on Worldwide Issues
The company announced in September of 2022 that it is dedicated to protecting its users’ basic human right of free speech by providing private messaging and keeping its service operational for users despite government attempts to block communication on the app. In furtherance of this goal, WhatsApp recently announced the launch of proxy support for its users worldwide. This development comes on the heels of a series of internet blackouts orchestrated by Iranian authorities, aimed at suppressing dissent and curtailing anti-government demonstrations.
This new feature allows users to maintain access to WhatsApp even if their connection is blocked or disrupted, putting the power in the hands of its users. The company has provided helpful guidelines for users worldwide to set up their own proxy servers. The proxy support feature is now officially available for users of the latest version of the app and provides an alternative means of connecting to the platform, even in instances where internet access is restricted or shut down.
Promises of Privacy
Connecting through a proxy server will not affect WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, and the content shared will not be visible to anyone in between, including the proxy servers, WhatsApp, or Meta. However, it should be noted that privacy experts have accused WhatsApp of sharing specific user data with other Meta companies. Users may also be hesitant to trust the app, as it operates under the Meta cloud and its sister company Facebook, which has a reputation for poor moderation and being exploited by malicious actors.
Despite some concerns, the company has emphasized through a blog post that they are working towards ensuring internet shutdowns do not occur and that people’s human rights are not denied or cut off from receiving urgent help. “We continue to fight for your right to communicate freely and privately,” WhatsApp stated on Twitter. “Now, when connecting to WhatsApp directly is not possible, you can stay connected around the world through a server set up by volunteers and organizations dedicated to helping others communicate freely,” it added.
WhatsApp has stood firm in its commitment to protecting the privacy of users’ personal messages, even going as far as to file lawsuits in some circumstances to protect human rights. They have argued that they will not lower their security standards for any government, a testament to their dedication to keeping their users’ information safe. WhatsApp has faced hurdles in the past, but they have always succeeded in overcoming them.
Can They Do It?
This new feature is a testament to WhatsApp’s commitment to standing up for human rights and protecting the privacy of its users. With the ability to maintain access to private messaging during internet blackouts and shutdowns, users can continue to exercise their right to free speech and communication without fear of censorship or repression. WhatsApp’s bold move sends a message to governments worldwide that the right to privacy and freedom of expression will not be compromised.