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Standoff: WhatsApp blinks first

New Delhi:  As a result of widespread concerns over data sharing with parent company Facebook and the potential violation of Indians’ right to privacy, WhatsApp on Friday voluntarily halted the rollout of its controversial new privacy policy.

In this case, the instant messaging platform and its owners, Facebook, challenged a CCI, or Competition Commission of India, inquiry into the contentious policy. A High Court single-judge bench previously dismissed their appeals against the CCI inquiry, which had sent notices to both companies asking for information about the policy last month.

It was noted in the High Court that the Supreme Court rulings had already been challenged. WhatsApp was trying to ‘force’ users into accepting its new policy, the center told the Delhi High Court — shortly before the new Personal Data Protection Bill goes into effect. The centre said that it obtained consent by bombarding users with daily notifications.

The new policy was supposed to go into effect in early February, but WhatsApp delayed implementation, initially to mid-May, after the government stepped in due to public and expert concerns. Users in other countries also complained about the company.

Read more: IPS officer accused of ‘conspiracy’ against government

The company told the government in May that protecting the privacy of its users was its top priority. The company assured the Government of India that the privacy of users remains its top priority in response to a May 18 letter from the government asking WhatsApp to pull back the proposed new policy. India is WhatsApp’s biggest market, with over 500 million users, and the company has aggressive expansion plans in the country.


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