WhatsApp launches feature to bypass censorship

WhatsApp has launched a feature that lets users bypass government blocks of the service by allowing connections through proxy servers.

The option is available in the Storage and Data section of the settings menu for everyone running the latest version of WhatsApp on Android and iOS.

WhatsApp said that proxy support would put the “power into people’s hands” by allowing them to continue using WhatsApp if their access to the service was blocked or disrupted.

“Choosing a proxy enables you to connect to WhatsApp through servers set up by volunteers and organisations around the world dedicated to helping people communicate freely,” it explained in a recent blog post.

The launch of proxy support comes after multiple Internet shutdowns during periods of anti-government protests.

Authoritarian governments have often cut off citizens’ access to the Internet to prevent protesters from organising events or sharing details about human rights abuses with the rest of the world.

“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.”

WhatsApp said the feature maintained end-to-end encryption, and neither the proxy operators nor Meta Platforms itself could read the contents of messages.

No one else along the chain of communication could read them either, it said — including Internet service providers and governments.

WhatsApp has also asked those who can provide their resources to help other users stay connected to set up a proxy using the detailed documentation on a GitHub repository.

The chat platform provides more details on how to use the proxy feature in its website’s FAQ section.

Now read: WhatsApp “view once” messages in the works

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WhatsApp launches feature to bypass censorship