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Thursday, June 24, 2021

WhatsApp pushing privacy policy before data law comes: Centre to Delhi HC

WhatsApp reacted by saying said that "privacy of users remains our highest priority" and that it has already responded to the Centre.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi |
Updated: June 4, 2021 3:28:03 am
Whatsapp privacy policy, Delhi HC on Whatsapp, Personal Data Protection Bill, Centre to Delhi HC on whatsapp, delhi news, delhi latest news, delhi today news, delhi local news, new delhi news, latest delhi newsThe government has also argued that WhatsApp’s actions are against “the very grain of prima facie opinion of the Competition Commission of India’s order” dated March 24.

THE Centre on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that WhatsApp is trying to get “trick consent” from its users for the messaging platform’s updated privacy policy to ensure that the existing user base is made to accept the terms and conditions before the Personal Data Protection Bill becomes a law.

“It is submitted that millions of WhatsApp existing users — those who have not accepted the updated 2021 privacy policy — are being bombarded with notifications on every day basis,” the government said in response to a petition challenging the Facebook-owned messaging app’s 2021 privacy policy.

In response, a WhatsApp spokesperson said they have already responded to the government and assured them that privacy of users remains its highest priority.

In its affidavit, the Centre told the court that WhatsApp has “unleashed its digital prowess” to its “unsuspecting existing users” and would like to force them to accept the privacy policy by sending such notifications at regular intervals. “The game plan is very clear — to transfer the entire existing user base committed to updated 2021 privacy policy before the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becomes law,” the government stated in its reply.

Seeking directions from the court to stop WhatsApp from sending such notifications to users, the Centre also argued that WhatsApp’s actions are against “the very grain of prima facie opinion of the Competition Commission of India’s order”, dated March 24.

In a statement, the WhatsApp spokesperson said, “As a reminder, the recent update does not change the privacy of people’s personal messages. Its purpose is to provide additional information about how people can interact with businesses if they choose to do.”

The company also stated that WhatsApp will not limit its functionality and instead continue to remind users from time to time about the update. “We hope this approach reinforces the choice that all users have whether or not they want to interact with a business. We will maintain this approach until at least the forthcoming PDP law comes into effect,” the statement reads.

In March, the Centre had told the court that WhatsApp’s new privacy policy violates the 2011 IT Rules on five counts. It urged the court to restrain the messaging app from implementing the new privacy policy , pending adjudication of the case by the court.

The replies have been filed by the Centre in response to a PIL seeking framing of guidelines to protect privacy and data of users being collected by various social media sites and messaging apps. The petition, filed by Noida resident Dr Seema Singh, along with Delhi residents Meghan and Vikram Singh, argues that fissures in law with regard to data are “quite conspicuous”, and a framework to regulate that is required.

WhatsApp, in a written reply before the court, has stated that many interest-based applications and websites collect information similar to or in many instances much broader than those mentioned in its 2021 policy. It has also said that if its policy is stopped, it would not only undermine the users’ freedom to contract with a private party but also “disrupt the industry” which provides a wide variety of important services.

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