South Africa threatens litigation over new WhatsApp privacy policy - TechCentral

South Africa threatens litigation over new WhatsApp privacy policy

South Africa’s newly established Information Regulator is consulting lawyers about Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s new privacy policy and warned it is considering litigation.

Users of the popular instant messaging app have until 15 May to accept WhatsApp’s new privacy policy or face the possibility of having their experienced degraded until the app becomes unusable or they accept the new terms.

Facebook had planned to introduce the new privacy policy earlier this year but pushed its implementation out to May after a global backlash from users that prompted many to download alternative apps such as Signal and Telegram.

The Information Regulator has now stepped in and demanded that Facebook offer South African users the same terms and conditions being offered to users in the European Union.

“The Information Regulator has, after correspondence, written to WhatsApp and requested it to revise the privacy policy for South Africa to the standard used in the EU,” it said in a statement on Friday. “The regulator has received no agreement from WhatsApp. Under the circumstances, the regulator is briefing attorneys to prepare an opinion on the way forward in terms of litigation.”

‘Similar regime’

The regulator said South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (Popia) has created a privacy regime in the country that is “very similar” to the EU’s and “therefore believes that WhatsApp should adopt the EU policy in South Africa, and other countries in the global south that have similar regimes”.

“The regulator remains of the view that despite WhatsApp operating in different legal and regulatory environments, there are effectively two privacy policies,” it said, one for users living in Europe and another for those outside Europe.

“Given Facebook’s status as one of the world’s largest companies, the regulator is of the view that it should work together with other organisations to hold Facebook accountable,” it said.

It has engaged with the Global Privacy Assembly, of which it is a member, to obtain the view or position of the organisations on the revised Ts&Cs. It has also asked the portfolio committee on justice & correctional services to request Facebook South Africa and WhatsApp to appear in parliament to answer questions on the matter.

“We are obligated as the regulator to ensure the protection of personal information of all South African citizens and monitor compliance with Popia by responsible parties. We therefore will take this matter further and seek legal opinions and advocate for collaborated efforts,” said Information Regulator chair Pansy Tlakula.

Contacted for comment on Friday, a spokesman for Facebook said the company has responded to the Information Regulator to clarify that its recent update “does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook and does not impact the privacy of your messages with friends or family, wherever they are in the world”.

“WhatsApp does not share your contacts with Facebook and that policy applies to users everywhere, including in South Africa. We remain fully committed to delivering secure and private communications for everyone.”  — © 2021 NewsCentral Media

Comments are closed.

© 2009 – 2021 NewsCentral Media