WhatsApp's new privacy policy: How Indian rules vary from rest of the world

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jan 13, 2021, 10.05 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

All these governments are legislating to protect the data of their citizens which has forced Facebook to comply.

Whatsapp is changing its privacy policy, and if the users don't agree within 26 days, then they must delete the app. However, it applies only to its users in India. Europe, on the other hand, doesn't have to bother about the new policy which means WhatsApp will not share the continent's data with Facebook.

“There are no changes to WhatsApp’s data-sharing practices in the European region arising from the updated terms of service and privacy policy. For the avoidance of any doubt, it is still the case that WhatsApp does not share European region WhatsApp user data with Facebook for the purpose of Facebook using this data to improve its products or advertisements,” a spokeswoman said. 

WhatsApp's executives in Europe said: "There are no changes to WhatsApp's data-sharing practices in the European region."

"WhatsApp does not share European region user data with Facebook", they added. 

WhatsApp has issued more clarifications. Niamh Sweeney, WhatsApp's director of policy for Europe, West Asia and Africa took to Twitter. 

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Why are there different rules for Europe and India?

It is because of European laws. Europe has tougher laws to protect user privacy. Facebook must comply with those laws.

Facebook has been punished and fined for sharing data in Europe a few years ago.  

In 2017, Facebook was fined 122 million dollars. 

Facebook is the parent company of WhatsApp. When it bought WhatsApp, Facebook promised not to use the app's data. However, it did not keep its promise. 

According to European regulators, Facebook had misled them and due to which the social media giant was slapped with a fine.

In the same year --- France gave a warning to Facebook. It threatened to fine Facebook if data from Whatsapp is shared with Facebook.

In 2019 --- Germany imposed a ban on similar Facebook policies. German regulators said Facebook cannot collect and mix up user data from WhatsApp and Instagram. Until they have explicit consent from the user to do so.

All these governments are legislating to protect the data of their citizens which has forced Facebook to comply.

Turkey, also, has launched a probe. The competition authority there is investigating the changes in WhatsApp's privacy policy. Until then, Facebook has been asked to suspend the changes.

So until the govt clears, WhatsApp cannot implement the new policy.

In the United States, the home base of Facebook, the tech giant is facing an antitrust lawsuit. 46 states have sued the company claiming that Facebook is now a monopoly --- and it must be broken.

The focus of the investigation is on data. How does the company manage its data? 

It gets data from Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Where does it go? How is it shared? What are the checks and balances?

America is investigating all this.

What is the Government of India doing to protect the data and privacy of its citizens? Why has New Delhi no legislated?

India is WhatsApp's biggest market with more than 400 million users. A market that WhatsApp wants to take for a ride because the govt has failed to come up with stricter privacy laws. 

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