WhatsApp faces first legal challenge in India over privacy

WhatsApp faces first legal challenge in India over privacy

WhatsApp recently announced that it is updating its terms of service and privacy policies from February 8, 2021.

Alleging that WhatsApp changed its privacy policy in "most arbitrary manner" and has made it compulsory for its users, the petition contends that the latest policy violates the right to privacy of citizens of India.

WhatsApp has become an important mode of communication among the citizens of India and is also being used to aid multiple governmental functions, the petition says.

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"The regulator will be analysing whether the terms of service and the privacy policies indeed differ and whether the privacy policy applicable to users outside Europe, which include the South African users are in compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA)".

Signal saw a meteoric rise as a direct effect of privacy debate around its larger rival WhatsApp, but its co-founder Brian Acton said the messaging platform is hoping to capitalise on the opportunities with its "simple and straightforward" terms of service and privacy policy.

"This has become all the more important over the past year with people needing to conduct commerce remotely", Cathcart said adding that WhatsApp works with Facebook to support millions of micro businesses around India. Instead, this update provides further transparency about how we collect and use data, as well as clarifying changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional.

For the unaware, the new terms and conditions rolled out by WhatsApp gives the company a right to share the location data, phone number, usage pattern of the app, and more with Facebook and its suite of apps including Messenger and Instagram.

In a blogpost earlier this week, WhatsApp emphasised that it does not share users' contact lists or data of groups with Facebook for advertisement purposes.

"We use group membership to deliver messages and to protect our service from spam and abuse".

Some 1.5 years later and there are signs many European Union data protection agencies - outside a couple of key jurisdictions which oversee the lion's share of big tech - are becoming frustrated by perceived regulatory inaction against big tech. "Again, these private chats are end-to-end encrypted so we can't see their content". Acton acknowledged that the recent spike in user addition may taper in the coming days as the controversy around WhatsApp cools down, but added that the entire episode has put the spotlight back on the importance of privacy and security of user data.

"For additional privacy, you can choose to set your messages to disappear from chats after you send them". In the prevalent Covid-19 pandemic times, confidential proceedings, such as that of the mediations is being conducted by WhatsApp.