California-based WhatsApp is facing a legal challenge in India after a plea was filed in Delhi High Court over the new change in its data-sharing policy.
This triggered outrage amongst its users worldwide, including its biggest market India where it has 400 million users. The change also faced a challenge in Turkey with the country’s Competition Board this week launching an investigation into the messaging service and its parent company.
The flak over the new change has resulted in many users exploring other communication apps such as Signal and Telegram. This even pushed WhatsApp to begin a costly advertising campaign in several leading Indian dailies to calm users.
Signal co-founder and chairman executive Brian Acton said in a statement, “The smallest events have helped trigger the largest of outcomes. We are extremely excited that we are having discussions about digital safety and online privacy. Users are turning to Signal as the answer to those questions.”
Lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla in the petition said, “WhatsApp’s new policy virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a user’s online activity.”
A copy of the petition said, “Whatsapp was jeopardizing national security by sharing, transmitting, and storing user data in another country. WhatsApp made a mockery of our fundamental right to privacy. This kind of arbitrary behavior cannot be accepted in a democratic country and is completely against the fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution of India.”
The petition claims the new terms that WhatsApp requires its users in India to accept poses a threat to national security and is a violation of their fundamental rights to privacy.
Several founders and executives of high-profile organizations in the country have also criticized WhatsApp’s new data-sharing policy. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder of Paytm, accused WhatsApp of operating with double standards, pointing to how the new change was not affecting the app’s users in Europe.