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Lawsuits, Backlash Force WhatsApp To Walk Back May 15 Deadline For Privacy Policy Update

Lawsuits, Backlash Force WhatsApp To Walk Back May 15 Deadline For Privacy Policy Update

WhatsApp had introduced the policy on January 6, 2021, and it was supposed to come into play from February 8, 2021. The deadline was again shifted to May 15

This development comes two days after the Delhi High Court rapped WhatsApp saying it might stop the new policy from being implemented

The messaging platform is caught in a slew of court cases pertaining to its alleged antitrust practices, legality of launching a UPI payments service within its app and the new privacy policy

Facebook-owned WhatsApp will not delete accounts of users who do not accept its controversial privacy policy by the May 15 deadline, according to a report by news agency PTI. WhatsApp had introduced the policy on January 6, 2021, and it was supposed to come into play from February 8, 2021. However, the company decided to delay it further, after massive backlash from users.

This development comes two days after the Delhi High Court rapped WhatsApp saying it will stop the new policy from being implemented when the messaging platform did not show up in time for a fresh PIL filed against it. The latest petition, filed by advocate and educationist Harsha Gupta on May 5, through advocates Vivek Sood and Dhruv Gupta, challenged WhatsApp’s general terms of services as well as WhatsApp Business’ terms of services as violative of the provisions of the IT Act and the right to informational privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

“No accounts will be deleted on May 15 because of this update and no one in India will lose functionality of WhatsApp either. We will follow up with reminders to people over the next several weeks,” the spokesperson said in an emailed response to a query on Friday.

The spokesperson added that while a “majority of users who have received the new terms of service have accepted them”, some people have not had the chance to do so yet.

The messaging platform is caught in a slew of court cases pertaining to its alleged antitrust practices, the legality of launching a UPI payments service within its app and the new privacy policy.

While the Competition Commission of India has ordered a probe into WhatsApp on antitrust issues, the Atmanirbhar Digital India Foundation (ADIF) filed a petition in the Supreme Court in April saying WhatsApp Pay is illegal and its privacy policy discriminates against Indians.  

Another petition by Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam filed last year in the apex court contends that big tech companies like Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Google Pay and Amazon Pay should be asked to not send payments data to servers outside India. However, an RBI directive on data localisation says that payments data can go out of the country for a period of 24 hours after the transactions for processing purposes but should be erased post that.