Earlier, users had the option to choose whether they wanted to share their data with Facebook, the owner of WhatsApp. However, with the latest update, every WhatsApp user has to mandatorily agree to such data sharing. However, WhatsApp explained that the update did not expand its ability to share data with Facebook, nor impact the privacy. Instead, the update provides more specifics on how WhatsApp works with businesses that use Facebook or third parties to manage their communications with users on the platform. Hence, the implications of such data sharing are minimal.
The new policy has also removed the 'opt out' option given to users earlier, the panel said, adding that they have to now mandatorily agree to sharing of their personalised data by WhatsApp with Facebook companies. This, the panel said, appeared to be "unduly expansive and disproportionate" as it included data related to transactions, payments, battery level, mobile operator, internet service provider, and time zone. WhatsApp claiming that the update intended to provide users with further transparency about how it collects, uses, and shares data also needs to be examined, it said.
The data sharing provision may also have "exclusionary effects" in the display advertising market, which has the potential to undermine the competitive process and creates further barriers to market entry besides leveraging, the Competition Commission of India said in the report.