Here’s how to check whether app is accessing phone’s camera, mic or not


Last week, Foad Dabiri, an engineer at Twitter tweeted that the WhatsApp messenger app has been illegally accessing microphones when not in use.

To that, his boss Elon Musk quote tweeted– “WhatsApp cannot be trusted”, which became viral on social media platforms and some even claimed, they too are facing similar situations on Android phones.

Taking note of the issue, Meta-owned company’s engineers investigated the issue and clarified that a bug in Android app permission caused false activation of the privacy signal, even though the messenger app didn’t access any critical components such as the camera and microphone when the app was not in use.

With the recent updates to Android phones, they can show if any app is currently using a microphone or camera. Some phones can also flash light to indicate the app currently under use, is accessing any facility of the device.

Later, Google too released a statement that there was indeed a bug in Android that incorrectly displayed WhatsApp privacy indicators.

However, if you are really concerned about WhatsApp’s privacy issue, or any app for that matter, you can check the security of the phone, to know if it is accessing the microphone/camera or not.

Step 1: Open Settings >> Select App & Notifications
Step 2: Locate any app of your choice and tap ‘Permission’, to see what they access. You can enable or disable access to the camera, microphone, or other facilities of the phone.

Google’s privacy indicator feature on the home screen (just swipe down the screen from the top). Credit: Google

Also, you can know if the app you are currently using is accessing the microphone or camera in the top left corner. Just swipe down the screen from the top to view the camera and mic icons (circled in the screenshot below), meaning they are actively used by the app

Even on Apple iPhone, you can check privacy indicators, here’s how:
On iPhone, an Orange dot light appears whenever an app is accessing the microphone. And, if the app uses the camera, a green dot light appears on the display panel.

Apple Privacy Features. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

If you want to know which apps are accessing the microphone or the camera, follow the procedure below

Step 1: Settings >> scroll down to find Privacy and Security >> Microphone >> list of apps accessing the mic and you can enable or disable the access
Step 2: Same for the camera- Settings >> Privacy and Security >> Camera >> list of app accessing the camera and you can enable/disable the access

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