WhatsApp indulging in anti-user practices, Centre tells Delhi HC, calls out 'trick consent'

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The Centre has slammed WhatsApp for obtaining 'trick consent' from users for its updated privacy policy.

WhatsApp indulging in anti-user practices, Centre tells Delhi HC, calls out 'trick consent'
The Centre on June 3 submitted to the Delhi High Court that instant messaging application WhatsApp is indulging in anti-user practices as it went ahead with its revised privacy policy though it does not comply with Indian IT legislation.
In a fresh affidavit, the Centre has slammed WhatsApp for obtaining 'trick consent' from users for its updated privacy policy.
The Centre added that the Facebook-owned messaging platform has unleashed its “digital prowess” over unsuspecting existing users, forcing them to migrate to the 2021 privacy policy before Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becomes a law.
“Millions of Whatsapp users who haven’t accepted new policy are bombarded with notifications every day,” the government said and urged the court to issue interim direction to the messaging app to desist from any action of 'push notifications' onto users. The government also wants WhatsApp to place on record the number of times such notifications are being pushed daily and their conversion rate.
The affidavit was submitted before the high court hearing on the case began. The court, however, has adjourned the hearing of pleas challenging WhatsApp's revised privacy policy.
The affidavit comes as WhatsApp last week said it will go ahead with its controversial privacy policy update. It, however, said that it will allow users to read it at "their own pace" and will also display a banner providing additional information.
WhatsApp later defended its notifications to the users and responding to the 'trick consent' claim, it said it accords the highest priority to privacy of users.
The messaging app has told the court that its new privacy policy came into effect on May 15. But, it would not start deleting accounts of those users who have not accepted the policy yet. It will instead encourage them to get on board.
During the previous hearing, the Centre told the court that it views the new privacy policy of WhatsApp as a violation of the Indian Information Technology (IT) law and rules. It sought directions for the social media platform to make it clear whether it has confirmed to the same.
According to the Centre, WhatsApp has committed seven infractions by rolling out the new privacy policy. It added that the revised policy also violates the Supreme Court’s judgment in the privacy matter that had held privacy to be a fundamental right. The government has also written to the WhatsApp management to conform to the Indian laws.
WhatsApp laid out fresh terms in January, aimed at increasing business transactions on the platform. The update would allow the owner Facebook and its subsidiaries to collect user data, including their phone number and location.
Concerns over the privacy policy have sparked a global outcry. This also led to a rush of new users to competitors Telegram and Signal, among others.
WhatsApp then delayed the launch of the new policy to May from February and clarified that the update was focused on allowing users to message with businesses and would not affect personal conversations, which will continue to have end-to-end encryption.
In its latest blog post, WhatsApp said it will start reminding users to review and accept updates to keep using the messaging platform. "We've also included more information to try and address concerns we're hearing," it added.
(With text inputs from Reuters)

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