The Facebook owned WhatsApp has come up with features over the years to try and stay in the game even as the competition from similar applications like Telegram heats up. But it has like those services run into problems with governments across the world especially when the government feels they need to access specific user accounts over issues of national security.
When protests against government policies erupt at any time, social media platforms have been accused of giving a platform to protests which sometime could turn violent. You can imagine how this does not sit well with authoritarian regimes for example.
To bypass this, WhatsApp is providing proxy support to enable people in countries where access to WhatsApp has been denied or where internet has been shut down to be able to use it.
According to WhatsApp this service was in response to shutdown of internet services in Iran due to the latest protests, hoping that the service gives people access to reliable communications.
During the announcement the company says,
We’re mindful that just as we’ve celebrated the start to 2023 through private texts or calls, there are many people who continue to be denied the ability to reach their loved ones because of internet shutdowns. To help, today we’re launching proxy support for WhatsApp users all over the world. What this means is we’re putting the power into people’s hands to maintain access to WhatsApp if their connection is blocked or disrupted.
Choosing a proxy enables you to connect to WhatsApp through servers set up by volunteers and organizations around the world dedicated to helping people communicate freely.
They further clarified that this does not affect the end-to-end encryption currently enjoyed by users, “Connecting via proxy maintains the high level of privacy and security that WhatsApp provides. Your personal messages will still be protected by end-to-end encryption — ensuring they stay between you and the person you’re communicating with and are not visible to anyone in between, not the proxy servers, WhatsApp, or Meta”.