WhatsApp is being asked to revise its policy on ‘groups’ after multiple complaints of consent violation


  • The Indian government is pushing for WhatsApp, one of the country’s most popular messaging apps, to attain ‘valid consent’ for users before they’re added to any Whatsapp groups.
  • The app ascertained that users can only be added to Whatsapp groups if the respective admins have user contact details saved on their phones, not randomly.
  • The government has reaffirmed that such a safe-guard is not enough because even if a user exits a particular group, he/she is re-added multiple times by various admins.
  • WhatsApp is yet to respond to the matter.
Most phones in India have Whatsapp as their default messaging app, which is why the Indian government is ensuring that user’s complaints about consent with respect to Whatsapp groups are being addressed according to the Financial Express.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) asked the messaging platform to introduce a feature that explicitly asks users for permission before adding them to groups within the app after the advent of repeated complaints from multiple agencies within the government.

Consent, and that too ‘ valid consent’, has been a burgeoning issue in the advent of data breaches this past year. Whatsapp has been on the government’s radar not only for its own shortcomings in terms of fake news but also due to its association with its parent company, Facebook and its Cambridge Analytica scandal.

As per Whatsapp’s official policy, group admins can only add users to their respective groups when they have the user’s number stored in their contacts. The messaging apps claims that in case an user exits a group twice, they can not be added to the group a third time.

But reports suggest that this isn’t necessarily true. The complaints that have come in to government relay that users have been repeatedly re-added to groups by varying admins, that cross the imposed limit to be re-added.

In other cases, new groups are formed from altogether different numbers.

The government agencies also warned about fake content and misinformation being spread on WhatsApp groups just ahead of elections, which has raised concerns for social media platforms to have a robust policy.

That being said, a lot of the ‘fake news’ across India has been reported to be heavily propagated by the right.

WhatsApp is yet to respond on the matter according to the reports and one has to wonder what new security loophole will come into light next.

See also:
Whatsapp, Google yet to fully comply with India’s data localisation norms despite repeated inquiries from the government

WhatsApp says it will award $1 million to 20 research teams globally to fight fake news

WhatsApp is trying to make payment services available to all its users in India
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