back to article Indian government slams Facebook over WhatsApp 'privacy' update, wants its own Europe-style opt-out switch

The Indian government has sent a fierce letter to Facebook over its decision to update the privacy rules around its WhatsApp chat service, and asked the antisocial media giant to put a halt to the plans. In an email from the IT ministry to WhatsApp head Will Cathcart, provided to media outlets, the Indian government notes that …

  1. gratou


    Just write your own legislation with x% of income fines, India, instead of throwing a tantrum.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: GDPR

      There is probably a severe timeline constraint to creating a complete GDPR policy for a country the size of India before May..

      All the Indian Government need to do is put out one campaign to tell the public to switch to Signal or Telegram and almost instantly Zuckerberg will backtrack. No need to even speak to him.

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: GDPR

        Well we had GDPR on the books for year's. Wouldn't of took much effort in all those years to do a copy and past.

        1. The Central Scrutinizer

          Re: GDPR


          1. davidp231

            Re: GDPR

            Just remember to proofread it for instances of "Netscape Navigator" before letting it loose.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @davidp231 - Re: GDPR

              That was harsh!

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: GDPR

          The problem is, it takes a lot of effort. It isn't just writing a law, you need to give companies time to adjust their systems, change how they work, re-write systems, in some instances, so that they can comply.

          They need to train staff, appoint a data protection officers. The government would need to create a new body, like the ICO.

          All of that in 6 months? Hard to do.

      2. fuzzie

        Re: GDPR

        South Africa has legislation, PoPI (Protection of Personal Information) very similar to GDPR and should also have an opt-out ability, but its market size is pretty insignificant in the bigger picture. Facebook generally just ignores it. India has the benefit of being the largest WhatsApp market so much easier to get Facebook's attention.

        Note: With Brexit, UK lost GDPR protection and UK customers are moving from Facebook Ireland/EU to Facebook/US jurisdiction. I can imagine Facebook would fight hard against further balkanization of the customer base.

        Another item, many EU citizens have noted that GDPR offers them protection regardless of where they are (resident), i.e. the Facebook filter cannot be geographic presence. tl;dr: It gets messier really quickly, but I bet it's not something Facebook really wants to address, because it "dilutes" their data schnarfing base.

        India is also the proving ground for their deep integration with (hosted) businesses and payment gateways so Facebook has a strong interest in that not going belly-up.

        1. Steve K

          Re: GDPR

          No - GDPR was replaced by UK-GDPR on 31/01/2020 which is regulated by the ICO.

          UK-GDPR is basically the same as GDPR, although it has changes on National Security/Intelligence Services and Immigration.


          That's not to say that it couldn't change, and if FaceBook are ignoring GDPR then they will do the same for UK-GDPR of course...

          1. fuzzie

            Re: GDPR

            Thanks for the extra details on UK's new "GDPR" situation. Facebook have definitely stated they're moving UK customers from Ireland to the US. I'm curious how UK-GDPR is different enough to allow them to do that. Perhaps Privacy Shield style agreements?

            1. iron Silver badge

              Re: GDPR

              I don't think it is that different. I think FB are just making moving users to another juristiction and they will deal with any fallout later. Classic case of it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

            2. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: GDPR

              The UK is still in the "European Region" which is EEA + UK if we believe WhatsApp's privacy policy however everything sent to Facebook's platform (Business, Facebook Messenger) is slurped.

            3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: GDPR

              Yes, but as El Reg reported it, as far as WhatsApp is concerned, the UK is still part of Europe.

              1. davidp231

                Re: GDPR

                "Yes, but as El Reg reported it, as far as WhatsApp is concerned, the UK is still part of Europe."

                Probably because the UK *is* still part of Europe? We left the European Union, not the continent.

                1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                  Re: GDPR

                  You can put your pedant hat away.

                  It seems that WhatsApp lumps lots of countries together into the "Europe" region where it follows GDPR whether or not the countries are part of the EU. Course, it may only be a matter of time until, like Facebook, UK users of WhatsApp are considered part of "rest of the world".

          2. EnviableOne Silver badge

            Re: GDPR

            no it wasn't

            GDPR does not and never did directly apply to the uk

            the Data Protection Act 2018 however implements the controls as listed in the version of the GDPR on its date of publication.

        2. noboard

          Re: GDPR

          "moving from Facebook Ireland/EU to Facebook/US jurisdiction."

          That would be the same Ireland that has continually supported Facebook, rather than protect EU citizens.

      3. onemark03

        All the Indian Government need to do ...

        ... is simply to pull the plug on Facebook until it comes to heel.


      4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: GDPR

        Given how capriciously, including retroactive tax grabs, various Indian governments have enacted legislation in the past, I don't think that would matter. It's also not shy to wield the ban hammer.

        But this is probably just standard posturing and sabre-rattling: not a day goes by in India without it. Presumably, a suitable donation to the BJP will help resolve the issue…

      5. Adair Silver badge

        Re: GDPR

        After suitable warnings to those most effected WhatsApp has been excised from Adair's phone (it was only there under sufferance anyway).

        Wickr Me (one person I know prefers to use this), Signal and DeltaChat remain to cover messaging needs. How many services do we actually need anyway?

        Clearly what we can all live without are a bunch of arrogant money-grubbers shoving their unpleasant ways down our throats, as though we actually need them. Good riddance.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GDPR

      But a law would tie - at least formally - everyone hands, the government can't cherry-pick which companies can do whatever they like and which not...

      1. gratou

        Re: GDPR

        They can choose whom to sue

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: GDPR

        "the government can't cherry-pick which companies can do whatever they like and which not..."

        They can and they have. India recently banned several Chinese apps, either because they're creepy data collection efforts or because India is angry with China. They didn't make a new law to do that; they just listed some undesirable apps and told the companies to stop operating in India. They could always do that again. I wouldn't hold my breath though.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "wants its own Europe-style opt-out switch"

    No ! Not opt-out, it should be opt-in.


    On a side note, it would seem that GDPR is having a certain influence outside of the EU <smirk>.

  3. Long John Silver

    Where does Brexit Britain stand?

    Detached from the EU, the UK when negotiating a new trade deal with the USA will be under immense pressure to not interfere in business practices of American owned vendors of goods and services.

  4. DS999 Silver badge

    This is the Facebook version of

    Microsoft "building IE into the Windows operating system", so they can claim to regulators that it can't be removed.

  5. rjed
    Thumb Up

    Clear win for GDPR and EU in general

    It is discriminatory for Facebook to have different rules for Europe vs India/US/Rest. But the world (India/US/Rest) should understand, only they are to blame.

    This simply goes on to show how effective legislation can protect Citizen's right.

    Kudos to GDPR which is not only protecting Europe but also is indirectly instrumental in protecting other parts of the world.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like