Privacy concern: Stop WhatsApp from forcing customers to accept its new privacy policy, govt urges Delhi High Court

Intensifying its opposition to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, the government on Thursday urged the Delhi High Court to situation an interim path to the messaging platform to cease bombarding its customers with notifications to accept its new terms and circumstances. In an more affidavit filed in the court, the government alleged that WhatsApp is “indulging in anti-users’ practices by obtaining trick consent from users for its updated privacy policy” and these who have not accepted it are getting bombarded with such notifications day-to-day. The government also desires the HC to situation a path to WhatsApp to location on record quantity of occasions such notifications are getting pushed day-to-day and their conversion price.

The fundamental prayer of the government is that WhatsApp need to be restrained from implementing the new policy till the challenge to the validity of its policy is lastly decided by the court.

“Millions of WhatsApp existing users, those who have not accepted the updated 2021 privacy policy, are being bombarded with notifications on everyday basis,” the ministry of electronics and info technologies (MeitY) stated, adding that this was getting completed by “pushing notifications” to the customers. “WhatsApp has unleashed its digital prowess to the unsuspecting existing users and would like to force them to accept the updated 2021 privacy policy by flashing such notifications at a regular intervals. The game plan is very clear, i.e., to transfer the entire existing user base committed to updated 2021 privacy policy before the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becomes the law,” the affidavit added.

The matter is currently getting heard by the Delhi HC and the government has in the previous hearings also opposed WhatsApp’s new privacy policy. On Thursday, the court did not assemble to hear the matter and the next hearing has been pushed to July 22.

As is identified, beneath its new privacy policy, which came into force from May 15, WhatsApp seeks to share industrial user information with parent Facebook. It has stated that the accounts of these customers who have so far not accepted the new terms and circumstances, will not be deleted but they would be sent reminders. WhatsApp has stated that it would not delete accounts or restrict functionality of its services for such customers till the Personal Data Protection Bill becomes the law.

The government has in the previous written two stern letters to WhatsApp objecting to its new privacy policy and warning against its implementation. The fundamental objection of the government is that the adjustments to the privacy policy and the manner of introducing them, like in FAQ, undermines the “sacrosanct values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users and harms the rights and interests of Indian citizens”. Stating that it is unilateral, unfair and unacceptable modify, it has also raised objections relating to the differential remedy accorded by WhatsApp to its customers in India compared to these in European Union.

Responding to the development, a WhatsApp spokesperson stated, “We will not limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works in the coming weeks. 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 so.”

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz