WhatsApp using ‘Trick Consent’ to accept privacy terms, Centre tells Delhi HC

Centre tells Delhi High Court that WhatsApp is indulging in anti-user practices by obtaining ‘trick consent’ for its updated privacy policy.

The Centre, in a fresh affidavit, has alleged at the Delhi High Court that WhatsApp is indulging in anti-user practices by obtaining ‘trick consent’ for its updated privacy policy. The government said that the messaging platform forces users to accept the updated 2021 privacy policy in order to transfer the existing user base committed to the updated privacy policy before the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becomes law.

The government alleged that WhatsApp is using its digital prowess to get people to accept the 2021 privacy policy. “It is submitted that millions of WhatsApp existing users, those who have not accepted the updated 2021 privacy policy, are being bombarded with notifications on an everyday basis,” it said.

In the affidavit, the Centre has said that the current notifications pushed by WhatsApp on its users, existing and new ones, are against the grain of prima facie opinion of the Competition Commission of India’s order dated March 24, 2021.

The government has asked the high court to issue directions to WhatsApp to desist from any action of ‘push notifications related to the updated privacy policy 2021 to users. It has also asked the Facebook-owned platform to place on record the number of times such notifications are being pushed daily and their conversation rate.

The Union government had told the court in March that the updated privacy policy violates the 2011 IT Rules on five counts. It urged the court to restrain WhatsApp from implementing the policy pending adjudication of the case. The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology in a response to a petition challenging the privacy policy said that the policy fails to specify what type of sensitive personal data was being collected.

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