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Privacy Row: Indian Gov't Slams WhatsApp for Obtaining 'Trick Consent' Using 'Anti-User' Policy

CC0 / / WhatsApp
WhatsApp - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.06.2021
In January, the instant messaging app WhatsApp notified its "two billion" clients that some user data is shared by WhatsApp's Business app with Facebook to personalise the buyer-seller experience. Started in 2018, WhatsApp Business is dedicated to connecting merchants and buyers for business purposes only. The update raised user-privacy concerns.

In a new affidavit filed with the Delhi High Court, the government of India has claimed that WhatsApp used "trick consent" for its privacy policy by indulging in "anti-user" practices.

The government has been accusing WhatsApp of forcing users to accept its privacy policy as the government prepares legislation called the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill.

The bill is expected to come with a data-localisation provision that will require all foreign companies to install their servers within India to store the data collected from Indian nationals. The bill was presented before parliament by India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in December 2019.

As of March 2020, the draft had been analysed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee in consultation with experts and stakeholders. So far, it remains unclear when the bill will come into force.

Indian authorities have been advising WhatsApp to roll back its privacy policy or change its mandatory nature.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) earlier told the Delhi High Court that WhatsApp's privacy policy would result in excessive data collection and "stalking" of users over advertising purposes.

FILE PHOTO: The WhatsApp messaging application is seen on a phone screen - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.05.2021
WhatsApp to Force Users to Accept New Privacy Rules With Gradual Service Cut-Off
The affidavit submitted by the central government with the Delhi High Court today also says that WhatsApp's constant reminders for users to accept its policy "is against the very grain of prima facie opinion of the CCI", the Indian news agency ANI reported.

The government has since urged the High Court to issue an interim direction to WhatsApp asking it to desist from any "push notifications" to users concerning its privacy policy. The government demanded that WhatsApp must reveal, on record,  the number of times such notifications are being pushed daily and their conversion rates, ANI added.

​In May, WhatsApp had told the Delhi High Court that it is continuing its efforts to get users to agree with its privacy policy, yet if the users do not agree with the platform's terms, the company will gradually begin to delete their accounts.



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