Wednesday, September 22, 2021
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WhatsApp says not forcing users to accept new privacy policy update

Facing flack for its new privacy policy, WhatsApp told the Delhi High Court that it is not forcing any user to accept the 2021 update

Facing flack for its new privacy policy, WhatsApp told the Delhi High that it is not forcing any user to accept the 2021 update in its privacy policy as it is not mandatory.

The messaging app claimed that users will have a choice whether to accept the 2021 update, or they can choose not to do so and are free to delete their WhatsApp accounts at any time.

The reply of WhatsApp came on a petition challenging the privacy policy of social messaging app.

Countering the allegation leveled in the petition, WhatsApp submitted that users were not previously given the option to opt-out of WhatsApp’s privacy policies if they wanted to use the WhatsApp service.

The social messaging app also said that it is not under any legal obligation to provide such opt-outs to its users and added that the law permits companies to not provide their services to users who do not consent to their terms.

The company also said that such practices are commonly practiced by online platforms across the industry whenever they update their terms. The company also said that online platforms are often less transparent by simply implying consent through continued use of their service after a certain date — rather than prominently and clearly giving users control and choice, as WhatsApp did.

The company also submitted that such interference in privacy update policy would “cripple” the internet-based applications and websites industry.

Urging the High to dismiss the petition challenging its updated privacy policy, the social messaging app also cited several internet companies including Microsoft, Google, Zoom, Truecaller, and others who have retained the privacy policies.

The messaging app also said that the petitioners’ allegations regarding the alleged disparity with European users are meritless.

The company maintained that the 2021 update, which applies to users in India, also applies to most of WhatsApp’s users around the world, including in the United States. On the different policy to WhatsApp’s users in the “European Region”, the social messaging app submitted that it is due to different rules and obligations in the European Region.

The court was hearing a plea seeking directions to provide “an option to opt-out” of sharing personal data with Facebook, as is mandated by the new policy of WhatsApp.

The petition has also sought directions to the Union of India to frame guidelines/regulations for safeguarding the privacy of the citizens.

The petitioners Seema Singh, Meghan, and Vikram Singh through the plea sought directions to the Centre to direct Whatsapp LLC to either roll back their policy or provide an option to the users of their platform to opt-out of the January 4, 2021 privacy policy and also to provide the users who have accepted the privacy policy another option to make a choice.

The plea sought directions to the central government to formulate Social Media Intermediary Guidelines as the new WhatsApp privacy policy of Jan 2021 is violative of Article 21 which enshrines the Right to privacy, the plea said.

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