The Centre on Thursday claimed before the Delhi High Court that messaging platform WhatsApp was acquiring “trick consent” from users for its new privacy policy, reported The Indian Express.

“It is submitted that millions of WhatsApp existing users, those who have not accepted the updated 2021 privacy policy, are being bombarded with notifications on an everyday basis,” the government said in reply to a plea challenging the platform’s privacy policy.

The Centre told the High Court that WhatsApp has been “indulging in anti-users practices by obtaining ‘trick consent’ from users for its updated privacy policy”.

“WhatsApp has unleashed its digital prowess to existing users and would force them to accept updated 2021 privacy policy, to transfer existing user base committed the updated privacy policy before Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becomes law,” the government said in its affidavit, according to ANI.

The Centre also argued that WhatsApp should stop sending the notifications to a user and claimed that the messaging platform’s actions were against “the very grain of prima facie opinion of the Competition Commission of India’s order” passed on March 24.

On May 25, WhatsApp said that it will not limit its functions for users who do not accept the new privacy policy.

On May 17, WhatsApp had said that it was trying to get users on board to accept the new policies, but in case they do not do so, their accounts will slowly be deleted. The platform had then said that there was no universal or uniform time limit after which it will start to delete accounts as each user would be dealt with on a case-to-case basis. The platform’s new privacy policy came into effect on May 15.

WhatsApp said that it will continue to do this till the personal data protection law was implemented. The platform’s spokesperson also reiterated that the main aim of the new policies were to provide more information about interacting with business if needed.

In January, WhatsApp had sent its users a notification that it was preparing a new privacy policy and it reserved the right to share some user data with Facebook.

However, after facing massive backlash and with millions of users moving to other messaging platforms such as Signal and Telegram, WhatsApp decided to defer the changes to May 15. The company also said it will do more to clear misinformation about the policy.

On May 14, in an affidavit submitted to the Delhi High Court, WhatsApp had stated that the policy update was not mandatory and users had the option of deleting their account or not using it.

The affidavit also named a number of private companies, including Google, Microsoft, Zoom and Ola Cabs and state-owned companies Aarogya Setu, BHIM and IRCTC, which WhatsApp claimed have a privacy policy similar to its update. WhatsApp has also issued clarifications, in an attempt to assuage privacy concerns of users.

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WhatsApp will not limit functions for users not accepting new privacy policy, says platform