The regulator released a statement on 3 March. In it, the regulator said it had written to Facebook South Africa to express its concern and share a legal analysis.
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It noted that some of the data collection in the new WhatsApp policy would require prior authorisation from the IR.
According to the IR, Facebook needs this authorisation to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).
Meanwhile, the regulator also expressed concern about differences in the approach to EU users.
The IR said that WhatsApp grants citizens of the European Union significantly higher privacy protection compared to people in South Africa and Africa.
“We are very concerned about these different standards that apply to us; our legislation is very similar to that of the EU. It was based on that model deliberately, as it provides a significantly better model for the protection of personal information than that in other jurisdictions,” Information Regulator Chairperson Advocate Pansy Tlakula said in a statement.
“We do not understand why Facebook has adopted this differentiation between Europe and Africa.”
The government body has indicated that it is interested in a round table discussion with the company to discuss these issues.
The new WhatsApp terms of service will come into effect on 15 May.
Users who do not accept the new terms will lose access to the full functionality of the app. This includes the ability to send and receive messages.
Facebook response to Information Regulator statement on WhatsApp
Memeburn reached out to Facebook South Africa for comment on the statement.
A WhatsApp spokesperson said that the company is currently reviewing the letter.
“To be clear, this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook and does not impact the privacy of your messages with friends or family wherever they are in the world.”
However, WhatsApp has previously noted that the new terms provide more clarity on how data is shared between Facebook companies.
Feature image: Megan Ellis/Memeburn