WhatsApp Acts On Surge Of International Scam Calls In India After IT Minister’s Warning

Lately, WhatsApp has been under scrutiny for various reasons. (Image: Reuters)

After a warning from Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Meta-owned WhatsApp is addressing the international scam call issue and stated it is taking strict action to curb the calls.

WhatsApp has been involved in a flurry of events surrounding the sudden surge of international spam calls that WhatsApp users in India are receiving—from various country codes—including the ones belonging to Indonesia (+62), Vietnam (+84), Malaysia (+60), Kenya (+254), and Ethiopia (+251).

Later, Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar, on Tuesday said the ministry is taking note of the matter and will send a notice to WhatsApp on the issue.

Since then, Meta-owned WhatsApp has acknowledged the issue, and has stated that it is taking strict action to curb the international call ruckus. To stop the barrage of calls that users are receiving, WhatsApp said that the company has ramped up its artificial intelligence and machine learning systems to reduce the frequency of such calls.

“Our new enforcement will reduce the current calling rate by at least 50 per cent and we expect to be able to control the current incidence effectively. We will continue to work relentlessly towards ensuring a safe experience for our users,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement.

He added, “We continue to provide several safety tools within WhatsApp like Block and Report, consistently build user safety education and awareness, as well as, proactively weed out bad-actors from our platform. However, bad actors find different ways to scam users.”

The spam calls, which mostly originate from overseas numbers, pose a threat to users in India and across the globe. The exact agenda, however, is unclear at the moment, but it goes without saying that one should not reveal their personal and financial information to random nobodies reaching on call/text on any platform—then be it WhatsApp or email.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar had also called out WhatsApp when a controversial tweet by a Twitter engineer that suggested that the app was snooping on users—using their microphones—when they were not using their phones—became viral. Chandrasekhar called it an ‘unacceptable’ breach of privacy.

Since then, WhatsApp has come up with an explanation, and has suggested that the alleged invasion of privacy was nothing but a bug present on Google’s Pixel smartphones, which was the same phone that the Twitter engineer was using.

Google has acknowledged the matter and said that it is indeed a bug, which should be fixed soon. “Based on our current investigation, this reported bug in Android affecting WhatsApp users produces incorrect privacy indicators and notifications in the Privacy Dashboard,” a Google spokesperson said.

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