WhatsApp faces antitrust probe in India over new privacy policy

By: |
March 25, 2021 6:53 PM

In January this year, messaging platform WhatsApp announced an update that will allow the company to share some data with Facebook and its units, leading to major backlash from people across countries including India.

WhatsAppThe gap between the top three UPI apps and WhatsApp Pay is quite epic.

In January this year, messaging platform WhatsApp announced an update that will allow the company to share some data with Facebook and its units, leading to major backlash from people across countries including India. The update is expected to come into effect in May and prior to this, Indian antitrust watchdog has taken out a 21-page order. It is to note that the order has come at a time when the company is aiming to expand its digital payment services in its biggest market- India having as many as 500 million users.

The Competition Commission of India in its order noted that the company had violated competition laws via exploitative as well as exclusionary conduct “… in the garb of policy update.” In this view, CCI has also ordered the investigation unit to initiate a probe and present a report on the same in the next 60 days. Usually whenever such probes are launched, it takes several months, however in the case of WhatsApp, the watchdog has given 60 days.

According to the CCI, the way WhatsApp will share the data looks like it can neither be fully transparent “nor based on voluntary and specific user consent.” This seems unfair to users. The company has reportedly told the regulator that the policy update does not raise any competition law concerns.

In a statement rolled out by WhatsApp, the company claimed that it will engage and comply with the commission and is committed to protect encryption. The company will also provide transparency regarding the working of the new business features.

In an earlier statement released by the company, it had said that the changes only involved users’ interactions made with businesses. The company added that it aims to protect people’s personal conversations with end-to-end encryption and neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can have access to these private messages. WhatsApp claims that it does not keep logs of people contacting or messaging others and it also cannot access shared locations and other such information. “We don’t share your contacts with Facebook,” the company had said in January.

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