Centre v/s WhatsApp on Privacy Policy

News: Communication between the IT Ministry and WhatsApp on the issue of the updated privacy policy has been going on since January this year.The Ministry has recently warned WhatsApp once again to roll back its latest update in privacy policy. This time, the Ministry has also warned of legal action if it does not get a satisfactory reply by May 25.

Details of Latest Privacy Policy:

  • When users rely on third-party services or other Facebook Company Products that are integrated with our Services, those third-party services may receive information about what you or others share with them.
  • WhatsApp collects information from devices such as battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP) among others.
  • If someone only deletes the WhatsApp app from their device without using the in-app delete my account feature, then that user’s information will remain stored with the platform.
  • WhatsApp mentions that it uses Facebook’s global infrastructure and data centers including those in the United States to store user data. It also states that the data in some cases will be transferred to the United States or other parts where Facebook’s affiliate companies are based.
  • Even if a user does not use their location-relation features, Whatsapp collects IP addresses and other information like phone number area codes to estimate your general location (city, country).
  • WhatsApp says that if anyone uses their payments services they will process additional information about you, including payment account and transaction information.

Criticism:

  • The Ministry has reiterated that the changes to WhatsApp’s privacy policy and the manner of introducing them undermine the sacrosanct values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users. The new Whatsapp policy contradicts the recommendations of the Srikrishna Committee report, which forms the basis of the Data Protection Bill 2019.
  • The principle of Data Localisation, which aims to put curbs on the transfer of personal data outside the country, may come in conflict with WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.
  • With the updated privacy policy, WhatsApp can now share one’s metadata, essentially everything beyond the conversation’s actual text. If users disagree with the messaging platform’s updated privacy policy, they will have to quit WhatsApp when the new terms of service are set to come into effect.