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WhatsApp appoints grievance officer in India amid 'privacy' battle with Centre

Appointment comes days after WhatsApp sued the Centre in Delhi High court over the issue of "privacy" on May 26. The Centre had later clarified that it respects the right to privacy and does not have any intention to violate it

New IT norms came into effect on May 26 New IT norms came into effect on May 26

Facebook-owned global messaging platform WhatsApp has announced the appointment of its grievance officer for India amid a legal battle with the Centre over privacy issues. The company said the grievance officer can be contacted directly if anyone has concerns regarding their experience on WhatsApp.

"As part of expanding our operations in India, we continue to work alongside government authorities to keep our users safe. We have appointed a Grievance Officer based in India, who can be contacted directly if a user has a concern about their WhatsApp experience and is unable to report it through other channels," a blogpost on the messaging platform said.

The appointment comes days after WhatsApp sued the Centre in Delhi High court over the issue of "privacy" on May 26. The lawsuit requests the Delhi High Court that one of the rules under the new social media guidelines is in violation of the right to "privacy" in India. This rule requires social media companies to reveal the identity of "the first originator of information" when government authorities ask for it.

The Centre has clarified that it respects the right to privacy and does not have any intention to violate it. It said WhatsApp's last moment challenge to the Intermediary Guidelines is an unfortunate attempt to prevent the same from coming into effect, even when they had sufficient time and opportunity available during the consultation process and after the rules were enacted.

Also read: MeitY defends new social media rules after WhatsApp lawsuit, assures right to privacy

"The rules only empower the ordinary users of social media when they become victims of abuse and misuse," Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravishankar Prasad posted on micro-blogging platform Koo, and also tweeted on May 27. Other digital companies like Google and Facebook have also begun updating their websites to reflect the appointment of the grievance officers under the new social media rules that came into effect recently.

The new rules require significant social media intermediaries - those with other 50 lakh users - to appoint a grievance officer, nodal officer and a chief compliance officer. They are required to be resident in India. Non-compliance with the rules would result in these platforms losing the intermediary status that provides them immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by them. In other words, they could be liable for criminal action in case of complaints.

After the new norms came into effect on May 26, the IT Ministry had turned up the heat on significant social media companies, asking them to immediately report compliance and provide details of the three key officials appointed.

Also read: WhatsApp users should not fear new social media rules: Ravi Shankar Prasad

Here's how you can contact WhatsApp's grievance officer

You can contact the grievance officer based in India with complaints or concerns, WhatsApp Terms of Service, WhatsApp India Payments Terms of Service and questions about accounts on the platform.

To contact the grievance officer, send an email with your complaint or concern and sign with an electronic signature. If you're contacting the company about a specific account, please include your phone number in the full international format, including the country code.

Also read: Google, Facebook begin updating websites to reflect appointment of grievance officers under IT rules

You can also contact the grievance officer via post at the following address:

Paresh B Lal

WhatsApp

Attention: Grievance Officer

Post Box No. 56

Road No. 1, Banjara Hills

Hyderabad - 500 034

Telangana, India

If you have a concern regarding usage of WhatsApp or processing of your information, you can either visit WhatsApp's help centre or contact it online. For online complaint, go to WhatsApp settings> tap help> then 'contact us'. You can also contact the company through WhatsApp.

If you want to contact the company about UPI based payments on WhatsApp, you have to follow these steps:

  • Open WhatsApp Settings > tap Payments > Help, or
  • Open WhatsApp Settings > tap Payments > Payments History > Transaction Details > Help, or
  • Tap the payment message > Transaction Details, or
  • Call 1800-212-8552 between the hours of 7:00AM to 8:00PM IST

Also read: Facebook aims to comply with India's IT rules

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