WhatsApp Obtaining Trick Consent By Pushing Notifications: Centre

The Centre said that WhatsApp is sending notifications to its users in India to accept the updated privacy policy.

Tech and Auto
2 min read
The Indian government has warned instant messaging platform WhatsApp for the second time to roll back its updated controversial privacy policy.

The Indian government has filed a fresh affidavit and has told the Delhi High Court that messaging platform WhatsApp is indulging in anti-user practices by obtaining "trick consent" from its users for its updated privacy policy of 2021.

The Centre said that WhatsApp is sending push notifications to its users in India forcing them to accept the updated privacy policy and the messaging app should be restrained from doing the same.

The affidavit was filed by the Centre, seeking directions to the Central government to order WhatsApp to either roll back the new privacy policy or provide an option for users to opt out.

WhatsApp has also been accused by the Centre of transferring the entire existing userbase to committing to its updated privacy policy before the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becomes the law.


"The game plan is very clear, i.e., to transfer the entire existing user base committed to updated 2021 privacy policy before the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becomes the law (sic)," the affidavit by the centre read.

Responding to the Indian government's allegation, a WhatsApp spokesperson said that the company won't limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works in the coming weeks:

"We reiterate that we've already responded to the Government of India and assured it that users' privacy remains our priority. As a reminder, the recent update doesn't change the privacy of people’s personal messages, rather provides additional information about how people can interact with businesses,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement.

The Indian government also asserted that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) – a statutory body that works to protect the interests of consumers – has said that WhatsApp has contravened the provisions of Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002, "through its exploitative and exclusionary conduct, in the garb of policy update".

Earlier, in May, WhatsApp moved the Delhi High Court on the ground that the new IT rules would cause the platform to ‘break privacy protections’.

WhatsApp is worried that the social media intermediary IT rules will go against its 'end-to-end encryption' stance that pledges to never read or store messages on their servers, resulting in a stalemate between the company and government.

The Centre had proposed to assign alphanumeric hashes to WhatsApp messages so that originator of every message can be traced back.

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