WhatsApp faces legal challenge over privacy in its biggest market

Emma Sadleir New

Under the new terms, Facebook reserves the right to share collected data with its family of companies. Many users have also started shifting to rival platforms like Telegram and Signal.

The Facebook-owned service, which serves over 2 billion users worldwide, said private conversations between people remain just as private as before.

A copy of the petition, seen by Reuters, said Whatsapp was jeopardizing national security by sharing, transmitting and storing user data in another country with the information thus governed by foreign laws.

Amid the public furore, WhatsApp, on its part, has sought to assuage users' concerns saying its latest policy update does not affect the privacy of messages on the platform.

"We've seen unprecedented growth this past week", Acton said in an email to Reuters.

Cathcart argued that some apps claim to have end-to-end encryption for group chats, and do no such thing.


WhatsApp, which has over 400 million users in India, counts the country among its biggest markets globally. Users' criticisms about the app's changed policies are rife and complaints about social media relating to personal data/information being misused are increasing. "Signal presents a very straightforward product, privacy preserving, no advertising, no user tracking and your data is your own", he said.

While many tech leaders like Elon Musk advocated using other platforms like Signal, in India too a number of business leaders including Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma and PhonePe CEO Sameer Nigam spoke of moving to rival platforms.

Emphasising the private nature of the platform, the executive said it only has information on three aspects - the account itself, account creation date, and the last date and time of login.

The Information Regulator of South Africa said it's in discussions with Facebook South Africa over concerns about the revised WhatsApp privacy policy and whether it's in line with the Protection of Personal Information Act.

Signal was downloaded by 17.8 million users over the past seven days, a 62-fold rise from the prior week, according to data from Sensor Tower.

Highlighting that WhatsApp has become an important mode of communication and is also being used to aide multiple Governmental functions as well, the petitioner also pointed out that the Supreme Court has allowed the service of summons via electronic mode, including WhatsApp. They'll learn about the differences, they'll see how we compete with each other. The Indian government is anxious about the privacy of the users.

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