Privacy Policy: Why WhatsApp Treats India & EU Users Differently?

WhatsApp users in Europe can opt-out of the new privacy policy changes. Why is this so?

Tech and Auto
3 min read
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WhatsApp's latest privacy policy comes into effect on 15 May 2021. The new policy aims to change how WhatsApp will use and process your data.

WhatsApp was earlier accused of forcing its users to accept the ‘privacy policy’ or to leave the platform. Speculations were made that WhatsApp is seeking to read private conversations of its users and is willing to share it on Facebook to run its business model.

Millions of WhatsApp users chose to switch to other alternatives. Due to which, the messaging platform then decided to delay its privacy policy update until 15 May 2021.

Users will have to accept the privacy policy by 15 May, failing which they will be barred from using WhatsApp's services. However, WhatsApp users in Europe can opt out of the new privacy policy changes. Why is this so?


Europe Safeguarded by GDPR

WhatsApp users in Europe can easily opt out of the new privacy policy changes without the fear of losing their WhatsApp account. This is possible due to stringent laws in EU called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The GDPR in Europe has framed certain guidelines that should be followed by EU as well as non-EU companies. "Informing users of the data that would be taken by the platform and taking their consent," read a policy issued by the European government.

Some of the features of GDPR which safeguards WhatsApp users in Europe are:

  • Companies should send breach notifications to affected individuals within 72 hours

  • Companies should make people aware of their rights and legal actions they can take in case of misuse of their data

  • Changes in corporate policies that make companies more accountable for the data they collect, along with a structure to collect fines from companies that do not toe the line


India Needs Strong Data Protection Law: IFF

GDPR is a stringent and robust law protecting privacy and data of its people, unlike India which does not have any such law.

Kazim Rizvi, Founding Director of The Dialogue, a public policy and a research company believes that the reason behind the opt-out option for WhatsApp Policy update in the EU is the strict restrictions on such integration under the GDPR. "The GDPR regime enforces strict restrictions on the integration of data sets between apps even if owned by a single parent company."

"With the Joint Parliamentary Committee working on the Indian Data Protection law, they must take cognizance of the global best practices to envisage a regime that takes into account the economic and national security realities of India. What we need is an independent Data Protection Authority that can review the policies of all data fiduciaries and ensure that user privacy is secured," Rizvi told The Quint.
"India does need a strong data protection law in place which would safeguard the citizens' interests. The PDP Bill which is in Parliament is not strong enough and has multiple shortcomings."
Anushka Jain, Associate Counsel, Internet Freedom Foundation

Delhi HC Scraps Pleas Against WhatsApp Privacy Policy Probe by CCI

Earlier this week, CCI ordered an investigation into WhatsApp’s proposed privacy policy changes, which were believed to read chats and calls of its users. After which, the Facebook-owned firm challenged the CCI’s decision before the Delhi High Court.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday, 22 April, dismissed petitions by Facebook and WhatsApp seeking an order to to set aside the Competition Commission of India (CCI) order calling for an investigation into allegations of abuse of dominance levelled against the messaging platform in connection with its privacy policy.

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