Calls on WhatsApp are (optionally) getting even more secure for the app’s most privacy-minded users. As outlined in this blog post, WhatsApp just added a new “protect IP address in calls” toggle to its settings that shields your IP from whoever’s on the other side of a call. When activated, calls will be relayed through Meta / WhatsApp servers, thus concealing your true 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.”
But the enhanced privacy doesn’t come without tradeoffs; WhatsApp notes that the new setting “will reduce call quality.” That’s repeated on this page explaining how to enable the new setting, where WhatsApp says “when using call relaying, you might find the call quality is reduced.” The company also emphasized that calls are always end-to-end encrypted — even when the new relay option is being used.
The other measure mentioned in the blog post is an option to silence unknown callers (first announced in June), which WhatsApp says prevents spam disturbances and also shuts down a vector for complex cybersecurity attacks.
“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.