Centre Tells Delhi HC That WhatsApp Is Using ‘Trick Consent’ To Lure Users

The Centre said that WhatApp is doing this under a guise to shift the existing users committed to its policy. It emphasised that the company has indulged in anti-user practice by obtaining “trick consent” from its users.


WhatsApp has become an “essential digital service” during the pandemic and the private company is now gaining “trick consent” from its users for its updated 2021 privacy policy ahead of the pending Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becoming law, said the Centre to Delhi High Court.

The Centre said that WhatApp is doing this under a guise to shift the existing users committed to its policy. It emphasised that the company has indulged in anti-user practice by obtaining “trick consent” from its users.

“It is submitted that millions of WhatsApp existing users, those who have not accepted the updated 2021 privacy policy are being bombarded with notifications on an everyday basis,” said the affidavit, citing a screenshot of the push notification and urged the court to restrain WhatsApp from “pushing notifications” to its users.

In its additional counter submitted to the High Court, the Centre said: “The respondent no. 1 (WhatsApp) has unleashed its digital prowess to the unsuspecting users and would like to force them to accept the updated 2021 privacy policy game plan is very clear, i.e, to transfer the entire existing user committed to updated 2021 privacy policy before the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becomes the law.”

The Centre said that WA currently has access to sensitive personal and business data of hundreds of millions of Indian users and has also acquired a role as an “essential digital service” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Therefore, it is imperative that WhatsApp privacy policy should be examined on the touchstone of privacy principles as laid down in K.S. Puttaswamy verdict”, the affidavit added.

Competition Commission Of India (CCI) in its prima facie opinion said that: “Through its exploitative and exclusionary conduct, in the garb of policy update, WhatsApp has contravened the provisions of Section 4 of the Competitions Act, 2002”.

The CCI believes that a detailed and thorough investigation is needed to ascertain the full extent, scope and impact of data sharing through the involuntary consent of users.

“The current notifications as being pushed by respondent no.1 on its users whether existing or new is against very grain of prima facie opinion of the CCI order,” added the affidavit.

The affidavit was submitted on a PIL by Seema Singh, Meghan and Vikram Singh directing the centre to order WhatsApp to either take back the new privacy policy or give the users an option to opt-out. 

The government has stated that the tech firm's new updated privacy policy violated the Information Technology Rules of 2011 and WhatsApp may be controlled from implementing the new policy till the challenge to the validity of its policy is finally resolved.

The PDP Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in 2019. “Upon enactment, this law will provide a robust regime on data protection which will limit the ability of entities such as respondent no. 1 issuing privacy policies which do not align with appropriate standards of security and data protection,” the affidavit stated.



Get the latest update about delhi high court, check out more about whatsapp data policy, whatsapp news, true scoop news & pdp bill

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for more updates.