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The Financial Express

India antitrust watchdog orders probe into WhatsApp policy

| Updated: March 27, 2021 21:06:11


The WhatsApp messaging application is seen on a phone screen on August 3, 2017 — Reuters/Files The WhatsApp messaging application is seen on a phone screen on August 3, 2017 — Reuters/Files

India’s competition watchdog on Wednesday ordered a probe into a WhatsApp privacy policy update, saying the Facebook-owned messaging service had breached antitrust laws.

The update announced in January, which will take effect in May, allows WhatsApp to share some user data with Facebook and its units, prompting a global backlash including in India, its biggest market with more than 500 million users.

The 21-page antitrust order came as WhatsApp is expanding its digital payment services to millions of Indians.

The Competition Commission of India said WhatsApp had violated competition laws “through its exploitative and exclusionary conduct ... in the garb of policy update.”

WhatsApp responded in a statement it would engage with the commission, noting the company’s commitment to protecting encryption and providing transparency on how the new business features work.

WhatsApp has previously said that changes only involved users’ interactions with businesses.

In India, users concerned about privacy have downloaded rival apps such as Signal and Telegram, according to data from research firms.

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