EXCLUSIVE: WhatsApp’s Grievance Officer in India quits within six months

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EXCLUSIVE: WhatsApp’s Grievance Officer in India quits within six months
Image by antonbe from Pixabay
  • Advocate Paresh B Lal was appointed as WhatsApp’s Grievance and Nodal officer in June this year.
  • The company is also hiring a Compliance Officer to comply with the country’s Information Technology (IT) rules of 2021.
  • WhatsApp never formally announced the appointment of a Chief Compliance Officer, however the government sources reportedly confirmed that one was appointed back in May 2021.
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Advocate Paresh B Lal — who was appointed as WhatsApp’s Grievance and Nodal officer in June this year — has quit and the Facebook-owned company is now on the lookout for his replacement.

Sources aware of the development told Business Insider that Lal left WhatsApp and his previous stint at AZB & Partners to start his independent practice. Currently, Varun Lamba, a partner at AZB & Partners, has taken up the role, for interim, of WhatsApp’s Grievance Officer.

EXCLUSIVE: WhatsApp’s Grievance Officer in India quits within six months
Screenshot taken from WhatsApp's blogpost

Besides this, the company is also hiring a Chief Compliance Officer to comply with the country’s Information Technology (IT) rules of 2021. Both these job openings are for WhatsApp office in Gurugram, India.

“We reserve the right to seek new candidates as needed because the officers are in critical roles and include the recruitment of uniquely qualified personnel to lead these responsibilities.”

— WhatsApp said in a statement to Business Insider

India’s new IT rules mandate ‘significant’ intermediaries to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer, a nodal contact person and a grievance officer — all three of whom are required to be residents of India.

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“We are looking for a highly motivated professional for the role of Nodal Contact Person & Grievance officer for WhatsApp in India. This person will coordinate with law enforcement agencies in India, including facilitating timely responses to valid legal requests under applicable law and our policies,” Whatsapp said in its job posting.

The company is seeking an individual with more than a decade of experience in handling law enforcement matters or similar investigative experience with security agencies to fill up its Grievance and Nodal officer’s position. The person should also have an experience of managing user complaints and grievance redressal programmes.

As per Lal’s LinkedIn profile, he had been with WhatsApp as the ‘Attorney-Grievance Officer and Nodal Officer’ between May to October 2021 and the reason for his exit is still unknown. Business Insider has reached out to Lal seeking more details about his exit.

Previously, Twitter India’s interim Resident Grievance Officer Dharmendra Chatur had quit his post in less than four weeks of his appointment in June this year.

Even though WhatsApp never formally announced the appointment of a Chief Compliance Officer earlier, the government officials have reportedly confirmed that one was appointed back in May 2021. Business Insider could not independently verify the claim.

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The applicants, applying for the position of chief compliance officer, must be a resident in India and have more than 15 years of experience in relevant compliance matters — including expertise in applicable laws and regulations to online platforms, internet safety issues, user privacy and content regulations.

For the Chief Compliance Officer position, Facebook is looking for an individual with “Public policy experience or experience interacting and maintaining strong relationships with key government agencies and other external stakeholders on compliance matters in a highly-regulated environment,” Facebook said in the ‘Facebook Careers’ section of their website.

WhatsApp had also moved to Delhi High Court in May for its concerns over "traceability" that has the potential to violate the privacy of Indian users. One of the clauses of the IT rules requires social media companies to identify the "first originator of the information" when authorities ask for it, which WhatsApp claims would hamper its encryption policy.

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