Published on February 8th, 2021 📆 | 3818 Views ⚑0
WhatsApp Chaos: Time for a Comprehensive Data Security and Privacy Law?
Facebook in its own defense claims that revenue from advertising on Facebook is essential for the company to function without imposing subscription charges from the user of its apps, and insists that information they hold will help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support and market their services and offers. That may be so, but the longstanding customer preference for WhatsApp will be tested in time when the subscribers turn to other competitive apps with similar features provided completely free to the user, in many cases without conditional agreements and privacy implications.
WhatsApp is also facing legal challenges on the grounds that it interferes in user surveillance and threatens India’s security. India has filed a petition against WhatsApp saying it is jeopardizing national security by sharing, transmitting and storing user data in another country with the information thus governed by foreign laws. The Pakistan federal minister for science and technology has said that the government was making efforts to introduce a strong data protection law to protect citizens’ privacy.
The regulatory vacuum is a real concern in terms of data protection as most of the countries are in the process of developing their legal mechanisms, but for most of the other countries (even though they are in the process of developing data protection laws until the Personal Data Protection Bill becomes law) it is hard to police technology companies on how user data should be processed. It is clear users have limited options, and the countries should take the protection of privacy rights seriously and come up with a personal data protection law. However, the users who are not conversant with data privacy implications might overlook the risks in downloading and using these popular messaging apps free of charge. Therefore, it is not too late to act, and introduce sound privacy legislation now to ensure that app providers have meaningful, clear terms and conditions that will allay doubts and suspicions in the minds of the user. This is also one way to promote competition in the market and allow wider use choice.
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