Don't join WhatsApp if not accepting new policy: HC

  • Don't join WhatsApp if not accepting new policy: HC

Don't join WhatsApp if not accepting new policy: HC

In an email to WhatsApp head Will Cathcart, the nation's IT ministry said the upcoming update to the app's data-sharing policy has raised "grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens..." The letter is dated January 18. "This approach leverages the social significance of WhatsApp to force users into a bargain, which may infringe on their interests in relation to informational privacy and information security", the ministry has said.

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The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has also filed a petition in the Supreme Court with the prayer to direct WhatsApp to withdraw its new privacy policy which is encroaching upon various fundamental rights of the citizens granted by the Constitution of India.

Many thought the update meant WhatsApp would share data from private interactions with its parent company, while the company reiterated that only interactions with businesses are affected by the change to its policy.

Through an in-app alert earlier this month, WhatsApp had asked users to agree to new terms of conditions that grants the app the consent to share with Facebook some personal data about them, such as their phone number and location.

Besides, complete technical architecture and server hosting data of Indian users have been asked to be furnished along with details of access to a third party.

Also, WhatsApp has been asked to explain if it conducts profiling of Indian users on the basis of their usage, as well as explain the difference between the privacy policy in India and other countries. "Don't join it. It is a voluntary thing, don't accept it. Use some other app", Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said to the petitioner, a lawyer, who has challenged WhatsApp's new privacy policy which was slated to come into effect in February but has been deferred till May. Just over the last fortnight, Signal saw almost 23 lakh downloads, compared to 17 lakh downloads for WhatsApp. The letter added that the company should have taken into consideration the fact that India is also working on a Personal Data Protection Bill.

Several privacy policy experts, while pointing out that the European Union has a very strict data protection law, have called for urgent and prompt implementation of the data protection Bill that has been in the works in India for some time now.

With over 400 million users, India is one of the biggest markets for WhatsApp. This basically means that companies can only use the data of their users for the specific objective for which users have given their consent. Also, the government wants to know whether WhatsApp captures information about other apps running on the mobile device of the user?