India must have data protection laws in place before acting against WhatsApp
In doing so, MeitY has made a charge that WhatsApp has discriminated against its Indian users. Its letter to WhatsApp reportedly states that given that Indians depend on it to communicate, “It is not just problematic but also irresponsible, for WhatsApp to leverage this position to impose unfair terms and conditions on Indian users, particularly those that discriminate against Indian users vis-à-vis users in Europe.” First, it can be argued that there are enough alternatives to WhatsApp in the market. But more importantly, it has to be pointed out that Europe’s citizens are protected by strong data laws that go by the name of General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. Where is the Indian equivalent of such laws? When will they be implemented? These are questions that the government should answer. These questions become even more pertinent because WhatsApp has reportedly said in its affidavit that it is being singled out, and that its policy is not different from those of private apps such as Google, BigBasket, Koo, as well as public apps such as Aarogya Setu, Bhim, IRCTC, and others. A fitful approach to issues concerning the user may do more harm to India’s approach to data protection and freedom than anything else.