WhatsApp faces first legal challenge in India over updated privacy policy

WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy is about to start monitoring users and putting India’s security at risk. This resulted in a petition filed with an Indian court on Thursday that poses yet another legal challenge for Messenger owned by Facebook.

California-based WhatsApp said on Jan. 4 it had reserved the right to share some data, including location and phone number, with Facebook and its entities like Instagram and Messenger.

That sparked outrage, including in its largest market, India, where it has 400 million users.

The change also encountered a challenge in Turkey when the country’s Competition Board launched an investigation into the intelligence service and its parents this week.

In India, many users have started installing competing apps like Signal and Telegram, pushing WhatsApp to launch an expensive advertising campaign to reassure customers.

“There is virtually a 360-degree profile for a person’s online activities,” said lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla in the petition to the Delhi Supreme Court of Whatsapp’s new guidelines.

“Browbeating”

A copy of Reuters’ petition said Whatsapp is compromising national security by sharing, transferring and storing user data in another country with the information governed by foreign laws.

“WhatsApp has ridiculed our basic right to privacy,” it said.

WhatsApp has given users a February 8 deadline to agree to the new terms.

“This kind of arbitrary behavior and frowning is unacceptable in a democracy and is completely ‘ultra vires’ (outside of its powers) and against fundamental rights as enshrined in the Indian Constitution,” added the petition.

It will be heard in the Delhi Supreme Court on Friday.

WhatsApp did not respond to a request for comment. It has already been said that the policy update will not affect the privacy of messages with friends and family because group chats are encrypted and the changes only apply to interactions with companies.

© Thomson Reuters 2020


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