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High-handed attitude of WhatsApp and it’s new privacy policy

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Ekta Meemroth
Ekta Meemroth
Intrepid Officer, Guileless Girl, Not an expert but like to share own perspective

After all why WhatsApp is so adamant on implementing it’s new Privacy Policy? What is the stand of Court and Government? Why there is so much of hue and cry? Why is the policy so muddling? These are the few questions which are bothering the users from quite few days now.

In early January this year, WhatsApp announced a new privacy policy and users were supposed to accept the policy by February failing to do so would have resulted into deleting their account. This attracted a fury of the masses as the policy intended to use and store personal data of the user supposedly for ads personalization and free (read unfair) usage as per company’s will. All these information will be shared with it’s parent company Facebook. If the policy is implemented then every data which is sent, received and uploaded on the app, can be used on any platform owned by the company for display, distribution and reproduction, even outside the country.

In the wake of rising opposition from masses and Government, company decided to push further the date of acceptance till 15th May with a twist that if policy is not accepted by then, accounts will not be deleted but will have reduced and restricted features. Meanwhile, MeitY on 18th May asked WhatsApp to rescind its new policy within next 07 days i.e. till 25th May as ministry holds the view that company’s new policy will affect the data security and user privacy. Policy can fairly be summed up as an update leading violation of ‘Right to Privacy’, if implemented.

There is a massive pressure from Indian Government and other regulatory bodies on WhatsApp to rescind its new policy. Amid all this heavy pressuring from all sides within the country, WhatsApp declared that app features will not be restricted even if the policy is not accepted by 15th May but company will continue to send pop-up notification as reminder to accept the policy. It further stated that this will continue till the Personal Data Protection Law of the Government does not come into force.

Rhetoric plea of WhatsApp

Company stated that it’s new policy will supposedly increase the security of user’s data. However, experts differ and have a valid opinion that new policy is threatening to the security of the user which is not hard to understand even for a goofy soul. The data is most safe when it is least shared with anyone or at any platform, whatsoever. WhatsApp used the example of other social media and government utility apps by claiming that the data collection, storage and re-usage by WhatsApp is similar to what is being done by those apps. It can not be denied that the policy implementation will only lead to the benefit of the company as it will increase the revenue which will be generated by improving company’s command over the data for more commercialized activities.

Even at present also, company is having a control over much of the classified data of the user including location, contact list, handset details and IP address, only to name a few.

So, the update is?

Time period given to the company, to invalidate it’s new privacy policy by the Government, ended on 25th May and like an arrogant player, it refused to invalidate the new policy and has confirmed that policy will not be rescinded. Company in it’s statement cited that it has submitted it’s reply to the Government. Further, adding to company’s ‘does not give a damn’ attitude, WhatsApp moved to Delhi High Court and filed a lawsuit against Indian Government for the laws that were supposed to come into effect from 25th May which was also the deadline for the social media giant to accept them. Instead of abiding by the guidelines and accepting the laws, on the drop of the hat, at the very last day of the deadline company decided to knock the gate of High Court to ‘prevent the privacy of the users from being jeopardized’.

It stated that new rules in the questioned IT laws are an ‘invasion of privacy’ and in favor of it’s claim company stated that in order to comply with the new law, WhatsApp would have to break it’s end-to-end encryption key for senders and receivers. It further added that the new law is a straight violation of the landmark judgement passed by Hon’ Supreme Court in The Puttaswamy case in 2017. Strengthening it’s stand further, WhatsApp stated that new law undermines people’s right to privacy as it requires to trace origin of the every message/chat which is equivalent of keeping the fingerprint record of every message sent on WhatsApp.

This shows, may be, WhatsApp has no intention to protect the privacy of users however, it has every intention of not complying with the government guidelines and laws thus framed by it on various pretexts. Filing a lawsuit against the government strengthens these intentions of the company that how it is adamant on keeping an upper hand over adherence to the regulations, that are in force or might be in force soon, of a country by not complying to them and thus, making a mockery of the system.

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Ekta Meemroth
Ekta Meemroth
Intrepid Officer, Guileless Girl, Not an expert but like to share own perspective
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