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Germany will not let WhatsApp roll out its new privacy policy, should India follow suit?

The Facebook-owned messaging app is set to roll out its new privacy policy and terms of service on May 15.

twitter-logoAnkita Chakravarti | May 12, 2021 | Updated 15:02 IST

Highlights

  • Germany has barred Facebook from processing personal data from WhatsApp users.
  • The country’s lead data protection regulator has also called WhatsApp’s new terms of service “illegal”.
  • WhatsApp’s privacy policy has caused massive confusion among users ever since it announced the new privacy policy.

Tough road ahead for WhatsApp as Germany has barred Facebook from processing personal data from WhatsApp users. The country's lead data protection regulator has also called WhatsApp's new terms of service "illegal". The Facebook-owned messaging app is set to roll out its new privacy policy and terms of service on May 15. Facebook had already delayed the rollout of the new terms of service but considering the surrounding ambiguity, the company might delay it further in Germany.

WhatsApp's privacy policy has caused massive confusion among users ever since it announced the new privacy policy. The company was earlier scheduled to roll out February 8 but looking at the reaction of people, the company had postponed the date to May 15.

Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information in Germany said that Facebook has no legal basis for processing WhatsApp user data. The report also claimed that the content of the new policy is misleading and show considerable contradictions.

"On evaluation of the facts and after having heard Facebook Ireland Ltd., there is no legal basis for processing by Facebook for its own purposes, notwithstanding the approval of the terms of use currently obtained by WhatsApp. The provisions on data transfers are scattered at different levels of the privacy policy, they are unclear and hard to distinguish in their European and international versions. In addition, the contents are misleading and show considerable contradictions. Even after close analysis, it is not clear what consequences approval has for users," the report read.

The data protection regulator alleged that WhatsApp is forcing people to accept the new privacy policy even though it has said that it would not delete the account of users. "Consent is not freely given, since WhatsApp demands acceptance of the new provisions as a condition for the continued use of the service's functionalities," it said.

WhatsApp in its defence has said that the data regulator has misunderstood the purpose and effect of WhatsApp's update. "Our recent update explains the options people have to message a business on WhatsApp and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. As the Hamburg DPA's claims are wrong, the order will not impact the continued roll-out of the update. We remain fully committed to delivering secure and private communications for everyone," the spokesperson said in a statement.

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