Privacy of users remains our highest priority: WhatsApp on Centre's trick consent' remark

WhatsApp's statement comes against the backdrop of an affidavit filed by the Centre in the court earlier in the day.

Published: 03rd June 2021 02:45 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd June 2021 02:45 PM   |  A+A-


For representational purposes. (File photo)


NEW DELHI: Messaging app WhatsApp on Thursday responded to the Centre's claim over the alleged 'trick consent' from users for its updated privacy policy saying it accords the highest priority to the privacy of users.

"We reiterate that we have already responded to the Government of India and assured them that the privacy of users remains our highest priority," WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement soon after the Delhi High Court adjourned the hearing of pleas challenging the messaging app's revised privacy policy.

WhatsApp's statement comes against the backdrop of an affidavit filed by the Centre in the court earlier in the day. The government has alleged that WhatsApp is indulging in 'anti-users practices' by obtaining 'trick consent' for its updated privacy policy.

"As a reminder, 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," it said.

The Centre also submitted that the current notification, as being pushed by WhatsApp on its users, whether existing or new, is 'against the very grain of prima facie opinion of the Competition Commission of India's order dated 24/03/2021'.

On Centre's contention against multiple notifications to users about the update, WhatsApp said, "We will not limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works in the coming weeks. Instead, we will continue to remind users from time to time about the update as well as when people choose to use relevant optional features, like communicating with a business that is receiving support from Facebook," the spokesperson added.

The messaging app will maintain this approach until at least the forthcoming Personal Data Protection (PDP) law comes into effect.

"We hope this approach reinforces the choice that all users have whether or not they want to interact with a business," it added.

The Centre submitted before Delhi HC that WhatsApp has 'unleashed its digital prowess' to unsuspecting users and wanted to force them to accept the updated 2021 privacy policy by flashing the notification at regular intervals.

The game plan is very clear, the Centre said, adding that Whatsapp intended to transfer its entire existing user base committed to the updated privacy policy before the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becomes the law.

The response of the Centre came after several petitions were filed against WhatsApp's updated privacy policy. One of was filed by Dr Seema Singh, Meghan and Vikram Singh seeking directions to the Union of India to order Whatsapp Inc to either roll back their policy or provide an option to opt out of the January 4 privacy policy.

In its reply, WhatsApp said that the messaging app was not forcing anyone to accept the update and its privacy policy is not mandatory.

In a fresh affidavit, WhatsApp said that the 2021 update is a contract between private parties that users are free to accept or reject.

Accordingly, WhatsApp submitted that the petitioner's attempt to invoke writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to challenge the 2021 Update - a private contract - is impermissible and abuse of writ jurisdiction.

WhatsApp has urged the Delhi High Court to dismiss the petition challenging its updated privacy policy.

The concerned bench did not assemble on Thursday and the matter was adjourned for July 22 for further hearing. 


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