Information Regulator exploring legal action against WhatsApp

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Tomorrow is the big day. After months of anticipation, WhatsApp will implement its new privacy policy and countries are none too pleased with that.

Locally, the Information Regulator has expressed its distaste for the policy and is currently preparing litigation in that regard.

“We are obligated as the Regulator to ensure the protection of personal information of all South African citizens and monitor compliance of the POPIA by responsible parties. We therefore will take this matter further and seek legal opinions and advocate for collaborated efforts,” chairperson of the Information Regulator, Advocate Pansy Tlakula wrote.

The problem the Regulator wants to highlight is that there are seemingly two different policies – a policy for those in the European Union, and a policy for everybody else.

The regulator is of the opinion that because the Protection of Personal Information Act is similar to legislation in the EU (the General Data Protection Regulations in this instance), Facebook should use the same policy it’s using in the EU, here in South Africa.

While this statement seems to have been issued at the 11th hour, the Regulator has been engaging with several organisations, including Facebook all year.

Most recently the Regulator and the Reseau Africain Des Autorite De Protection Des Donness Personelles (African Network of Data Protection Authorities) engaged with Facebook on the WhatsApp matter.

“The Network has made strong recommendations to WhatsApp requesting them to bring the WhatsApp privacy policy in line with Africa data protection laws. RAPDP emphasised that the privacy policy should be applicable to Africa in line with those applicable to other regions, particularly the European region,” the Regulator said.

Justice and Correctional Services has also been approached in order to request that Facebook and WhatsApp appear before Parliament on the matter.

It appears then as if the Regulator’s attempts to converse with Facebook have proved fruitless and now it feel it needs to explore litigation.

We’re not entirely sure what the Regulator’s play is here but we suspect, like it did in Germany, Facebook and WhatsApp won’t budge.

[Source – Information Regulator of South Africa PDF]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.