The Indian government has filed a lawsuit in Delhi High Court to restrain WhatsApp from implementing a new privacy policy.


The government alleges the proposed rules violate India’s technology laws on several counts as it fails to specify the nature of user data being collected or notify them about it, according to the filing. The changes also do not guarantee third parties obtaining user data will maintain confidentiality.

The high court is due to hear the case on 28 April.

The ministry of electronics and information technology is also concerned about the new policy and has asked the Facebook-owned messaging service to withdraw the changes which have implications for Indian users’ freedom of choice.

The government has additionally criticised WhatsApp for proposing a different privacy policy for India, its biggest market by users, than that for Europe.

In earlier court hearings about the policy, the companies said they do not collect or share sensitive personal data, Bloomberg news service reported.

WhatsApp is already facing challenges in India to the country-wide rollout of its payment service and has to contend with new guidelines which could require it to break its encryption to identify originators of unlawful messages on the platform.

In January the company announced a three-month delay to 15 May to changes in its privacy policy following concerns over mandatory data-sharing with Facebook. There were reports of users switching to rival messaging platforms such as Platform and Signal because of privacy concerns. 

Then earlier this month South Africa’s Information Regulator ruled Facebook cannot share any contact information it collects from WhatsApp users in the country with its other business without first obtaining authorisation from the regulator.

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