Now, a Twitter engineer has discovered that WhatsApp accessed his Pixel 7 Pro's microphone during the night even though he was not the one using it. In a tweet Foad Dabiri mentioned that WhatsApp has been using his phone's microphone in background during the night and since the morning.
Over the last 24 hours we’ve been in touch with a Twitter engineer who posted an issue with his Pixel phone and WhatsApp.— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) May 9, 2023
We believe this is a bug on Android that mis-attributes information in their Privacy Dashboard and have asked Google to investigate and remediate. https://t.co/MnBi3qE6Gp
WhatsApp refuted the claims saying that this is an Android bug "that mis-attributes information in their Privacy Dashboard" and that the company had asked Google to investigate the issue. Furthermore, WhatsApp reiterated that users have full control over their mic settings and that the app will "only accesses the mic when a user is making a call or recording a voice note or video".
Users have full control over their mic settings— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) May 9, 2023
Once granted permission, WhatsApp only accesses the mic when a user is making a call or recording a voice note or video - and even then, these communications are protected by end-to-end encryption so WhatsApp cannot hear them
Meanwhile, Twitter CEO, Elon Musk took this opportunity to remind his followers that they should not trust WhatsApp.
This is not the first time users have reported seeing WhatsApp access microphone even when they were not using the app. As documented by PiunikaWeb, some users have noticed this issue for more than a month with no confirmed fix in sight.
In case you are worried about privacy, you can go to your phone's setting and disable microphone access to WhatsApp until the issue is resolved. Furthermore, the recent versions of Android come with a Privacy Dashboard that gives you a timeline of when an app accessed your microphone for better transparency.