WhatsApp calls are becoming (optionally) more secure for the app's most privacy-conscious users. According to this blog post, WhatsApp has just introduced a new "protect IP address in calls" checkbox to its settings, which protects your IP from whoever is on the other end of a conversation. When enabled, calls will be routed through Meta / WhatsApp servers, masking your genuine IP address.
“Most calling products people use today have peer-to-peer connections between participants. This direct connection allows for faster data transfers and better call quality, but it also means that participants need to know each other’s IP addresses,” WhatsApp’s Daniel Sommermann, Sebastian Messmer, and Attaullah Baig wrote in the post. “IP addresses may contain information that some of our most privacy-conscious users are mindful of, such as broad geographical location or internet provider.”
However, the increased anonymity comes with a cost; WhatsApp warns that the new setting "will reduce call quality." This is echoed on the page that explains how to enable the new feature, where WhatsApp states that "when using call relaying, you may notice that the call quality is reduced." The business also stressed that calls are always encrypted end-to-end, even when the new relay option is engaged.
The other precaution noted in the blog post is the ability to silence unknown callers (originally disclosed in June), which WhatsApp claims prevents spam disruptions while also closing a vector for complex cybersecurity assaults.
“Protecting user privacy and security is absolutely necessary for WhatsApp to accomplish its mission to enable private communication for the world,” the blog post reads. “These new security features combine with many other protections to keep people safe on WhatsApp.” You can find the new protect IP toggle in WhatsApp’s settings under the privacy section.