Privacy: Regulator explores legal option against WhatsApp

The Information Regulator SA is seeking legal advice after writing to WhatsApp LLC to ask it to revise the privacy policy in SA to the standard used in the EU – and receiving no response. WhatsApp will require users to accept new terms and conditions for using the app, notes TimesLIVE. Despite earlier correspondence, the regulator, an independent body established in terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act said it had received no agreement from WhatsApp.

According to a statement yesterday, the regulator was briefing attorneys to prepare an opinion on the way forward in terms of litigation. The regulator said the Act has a privacy regime very similar to the EU regime, and therefore believes that WhatsApp should adopt the EU policy in SA – and in other countries in the global south that had similar regimes. ‘The regulator remains of the view that despite WhatsApp operating in different legal and regulatory environments, there are effectively two privacy policies for the users of WhatsApp. There are substantial differences between the policies for users living in Europe and for users outside Europe.

Given Facebook’s status as one of the world’s largest companies, the regulator is of the view that it should work with other organisations to hold Facebook accountable,’ the statement read. Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram. The regulator has also asked Parliament's Justice Committee to request Facebook SA and WhatsApp LLC to appear on this matter. Germany’s lead data protection regulator for Facebook said it would be banning the social network from processing personal data from WhatsApp users because it views the messaging app’s new terms of use as illegal.

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