WhatsApp's policy of introducing separate privacy and data sharing policies for Europe and India has raised eyebrows and increased the demand for a strict data protection law in India.
The Facebook-owned platform, which has over two billion users across the world, has updated its terms of service in a move leading to widespread confusion about the company's future plans. As part of the new policies, WhatsApp will share some data with Facebook and its affiliated companies.
According to WhatsApp, users in India will have no other option than sharing their data with Facebook and other group platforms. However, the app's policies on data-sharing will not be changed for users in Europe.
Niamh Sweeney, Director of Policy for WhatsApp, Europe said "there are no changes to WhatsApp's data-sharing practices in Europe arising from this update. It remains the case that WhatsApp does not share European Region WhatsApp user data with Facebook for the purpose of Facebook using this data to improve its products or ads".
Soon after this announcement, several digital experts questioned why WhatsApp decided to give concession to European users, Business Insider reported.
"The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe is a stringent and robust law protecting privacy and data of its people, unlike India where Personal Data Protection bill is yet to be enacted into a law" Dr. Karnika Seth, Cyberlaw expert and Founding Partner at Seth Associates told India Today.
This includes- what information is collected, how it is collected, for which purpose, and requires express consent of a user for any transfer, declaration of who are intended recipients of information and how it will be used.
"However, enforcement is a challenge, user often cannot discharge burden of proving their data has been collected illegally or for unlawful purpose, or based on ambiguous terms and cannot prove such data's misuse to claim compensation" Seth said.
"There is currently a regulatory vacuum with respect to data privacy and protection legislation in India. The Data Protection legislation has been in limbo for a while now resulting in Indian citizens being vulnerable to misuse of their data," Prasanth Sugathan, Legal Director, Software Freedom Law Centre, India said.
WhatsApp, however, has issued a clarification stating that your privacy won't be affected. But, it has mentioned that any chats with businesses will be shared with Facebook and ads will be shown based on these chats.