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‘Govt should ban WhatsApp Pay for privacy violations’, says Atmanirbhar Digital India Foundation: Report

WhatsApp, Parliament House India

The government should completely ban WhatsApp Pay’s operations due to alleged privacy violations and its payments services should be de-coupled from its messaging app, the Atmanirbhar Digital India Foundation (ADIF) said in a letter to the government and regulators. The letter says WhatsApp’s new privacy policy violates data localisation norms and guidelines on data disclosures, the Economic Times reported.

The letter, sent to the Prime Minister’s Office, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), said that WhatsApp’s new privacy policy update is a looming threat to the payments and financial data of millions of users. Since Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transactions on WhatsApp Pay will utilise Facebooks’ infrastructure, the two entities may share data to “provide customer support to the user or keep payments safe and secure,” it said.

MediaNama reached out to Ajay Data, secretary general of ADIF for comment. His responses will be included once received.

Since WhatsApp has planned to update its privacy policy, which envisions data sharing between the messaging app and other Facebook Inc owned platforms, it’s payment service violates UPI guidelines as users’ would have to accept the new terms to continue using WhatsApp Pay, the ADIF said. It further says that the new policy violates provisions in the IT Act, 2000 as it would use personal information of users’ without their consent.

The association, which was formed a few weeks ago to represent Indian entrepreneurs against the dominance of BigTech companies, says that the government and RBI should prohibit the messaging app from offering financial services since it deals with sensitive information of users. It has called for regulators to have greater oversight on the messaging platforms’ operations in India.

Government authorities should direct WhatsApp to permanently roll-back its proposed privacy policy update, the letter says. The Facebook-owned platform has pushed the roll-out of the new privacy policy in India by three months to May.

Last week, the wrote a letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart calling on the Facebook-owned messenger app to withdraw proposed changes to its terms and conditions

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