WhatsApp update helps users bypass government-enforced internet shutdowns | Science & Tech News

WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature that helps users bypass government-imposed internet shutdowns.

The update lets people connect. Messaging platform Via proxy servers – an alternative route for those whose direct access is blocked.

Instead of connecting directly to the desired website or service, the user connects to a proxy, which essentially acts as an intermediary for data passing between them.

WhatsApp owner Meta said it made the decision in response to internet shutdowns in countries like Iran, where protests have been ongoing for months following the death of a man. Mehsa Amini.

The 22-year-old died in September. After being detained by the country’s morality police for violating her strict dress code.

since then, The Iranian government has activated the Internet “kill switch”.cutting off access to services including Instagram and WhatsApp to curtail the organization of protests.

Other authoritarian regimes have imposed similar shutdowns in the past. Like dealing with protests in Myanmarwhich has been under military rule. Since the coup nearly two years ago.

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Internet ‘kill switch’ in Iran

How will WhatsApp work through a proxy server?

The option to connect through a proxy server will be in the settings of WhatsApp.

Users in affected countries will be able to enter the server name and use it to connect to the Internet.

WhatsApp recommends using social media or search engines to find trusted sources that have created proxies.

In a blog post, the company said a number of proxies have been set up by volunteers and groups around the world to help affected people “communicate freely”, but will also offer guidance on how users can How to set yourself up

Connecting through a proxy will preserve the app’s privacy and security features, including protecting messages with end-to-end encryption, the firm said.

How to Access WhatsApp through Proxy

WhatsApp has given instructions on how to connect to a proxy on iPhone or Android.

In both cases, users should ensure that they are using the latest version of WhatsApp.

On Android, in the Chats tab, tap “More options,” “Settings,” and then “Storage & data.” To reach this step on iPhone, go straight to WhatsApp’s Settings tab.

Once in “Storage & Data”, tap “Proxy”, “Use Proxy”, “Set Proxy” before entering the desired address.

Upon tapping “Save”, a checkmark will show whether the connection is successful – a failed connection may indicate that the proxy has been blocked.

‘A meaningful step to help those facing censorship’

After Ms. Amini’s death, research by Internet monitor NetBlocks found that Iran’s government was regularly imposing online curfews during the protests.

It was not only an attempt at neutral communication between Iranians, but also an attempt to communicate with the outside world.

Alp Tokar, founder of NetBlocks, told Sky News that WhatsApp’s announcement was “a meaningful step towards helping Iranians and others facing censorship”.

He said: “This approach is sound, and it effectively ‘decentralizes’ the part of WhatsApp’s infrastructure that is most vulnerable to filtering on Iran’s national gateway.”

He added, “Although the Signal Messenger app has taken a similar approach before, it is still significant that a company as large as Meta is following Signal’s lead and helping users access WhatsApp in a challenging environment. Calling for volunteers to help,” she added.

Read more:
Internal protests have brought Iran to the ‘brink of explosion’

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Iranians are ‘risking their lives’ in protests.

Can governments get around proxy servers?

Some have suggested that proxy servers do not offer a foolproof solution to Internet outages.

Professor Alan Woodward, a cyber security expert at the University of Surrey, told Sky News that governments themselves could theoretically set up proxy servers and “man-in-the-middle attacks to eavesdrop on messages”.

Users in a country like Iran will want to make sure that the proxy server they are connecting to is not malicious.

He added: “Even if the proxy you connect to is running meta code run by ‘volunteers’, I think you have to trust it.

“And trust is in short supply in some parts of the world.”

Connecting to a proxy server also requires system-level access to the Internet – if your phone doesn’t have service, you can’t connect to a proxy server.

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