South African Information Regulator to take action on WhatsApp privacy policy

whatsapp privacy terms south africa

The Information Regulator of South Africa has said that it will be taking further action regarding the WhatsApp privacy policy changes.

The regulator made the announcement on 13 May. It said that it had requested the company to revise its policy for SA to match the EU policy.

However, after receiving no agreement from WhatsApp, the regulator is briefing its attorneys to prepare a way forward. This includes an opinion on litigation.

“Under the circumstances, the Regulator is briefing attorneys to prepare an opinion on the way forward in terms of litigation,” the IR said in a statement.

The regulator noted that South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) is similar to EU privacy law. As such, it believes that the WhatsApp EU privacy policy should apply in South Africa.

“The Regulator remains of the view that despite WhatsApp operating in different legal and regulatory environments, there are effectively two privacy policies for the users of WhatsApp,” the IR said.

“There are substantial differences between the policies for users living in Europe compared to the one for users living outside of Europe.”

Regulator to work with others on WhatsApp privacy

It plans to engage with other organisations to hold Facebook accountable, according to the statement.

This includes the Global Privacy Assembly (GPA) and the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services. The regulator wants Facebook South Africa and WhatsApp to appear in Parliament.

“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,” Chairperson of the Regulator, Advocate Pansy Tlakula, said in the statement.

“We therefore will take this matter further and seek legal opinions and advocate for collaborated efforts.”

Facebook response

Memeburn reached out to Facebook’s local team for comment on the IR statement.

“We’ve responded to the Information Regulator in South Africa to clarify that our recent 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,” a local spokesperson told Memeburn.

“WhatsApp does not share your contacts with Facebook and that policy applies to users everywhere, including in South Africa. We remain fully committed to delivering secure and private communications for everyone.”

Feature image: Alexander Shatov/Unsplash

Editor’s note: Updated with Facebook response.

Read more: German data regulator bans new WhatsApp terms of service

Megan Ellis, Editor
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