Starting today, WhatsApp allows users to connect via proxy servers due to Internet shutdowns or if their governments block the service in their country.
The new proxy support option is available to all users running the latest WhatsApp iOS and Android applications.
WhatsApp said that connecting through a proxy will maintain the messages’ privacy and security as they will remain protected by end-to-end encryption.
This ensures that they can only be read by you and the recipient, with no one in between, like the proxy server, Meta, or WhatsApp, being able to access their contents.
“Using a proxy doesn’t change the high level of privacy and security that WhatsApp provides to all users. Your personal messages and calls will still be protected by end-to-end encryption,” the company said on Thursday.
“Only use a proxy if you’re unable to connect to WhatsApp. Your IP address may be visible to the proxy provider, which is not WhatsApp,” a warning says when setting up the proxy within the app.
To connect through a proxy on Android and iOS, you have to enter a proxy address after enabling the “Use Proxy” option under “Storage and Data” within the WhatsApp settings.
Those who want to help their friends or family to stay connected even when their connection is disrupted or blocked can set up their own proxies using the instructions available here.
“Our wish for 2023 is that these internet shutdowns never occur. Disruptions like we’ve seen in Iran for months on end deny people’s human rights and cut people off from receiving urgent help,” WhatsApp said.
“Though in case these shutdowns continue, we hope this solution helps people wherever there is a need for secure and reliable communication.”
We continue to fight for your right to communicate freely and privately.
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.
— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) January 5, 2023
WhatsApp rolled out end-to-end encrypted chat backups on iOS and Android devices in October 2021 to block anyone from accessing chats’ contents, regardless of where they are stored.
In December 2021, it also expanded the privacy control features with the addition of default disappearing messages in all new chats.
According to Meta, the instant messaging and video calling platform is being used by more than two billion people from over 180 countries worldwide.