SC seeks confirmation on WhatsApp's compliance with local data rules
02 August 2019
The Supreme Court has sent notices to social media platform WhatsApp, the Reserve Bank of India and the centre on a plea alleging that the social media giant has not complied with the provision of appointing a grievance officer and other laws relating to data use in India.
This comes at a time when the Facebook-owned messaging service and the government are at loggerheads over compliance with Indian laws and the mechanism to ensure traceability of fake messages.
The apex court has given the central bank six weeks to report on whether WhatsApp had complied with data localisation norms as the Facebook-owned messenger gears up to launch a payments service in the country, reports citing sources close to the matter said.
WhatsApp has been testing a peer-to-peer payments service for over a year in India, its biggest market by users, but local data storage norms have delayed an official launch.
Foreign payment companies were caught off guard last year by the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) directive that said all payments data should be stored “only in India” for “unfettered supervisory access”.
However, RBI in June issued a clarification on the rules saying foreign payment firms can process transactions made in India outside of the country but the related data should be brought back for local storage within 24 hours.
The Delhi-based Centre For Accountability And Systemic Change, had moved a petition to the Supreme Court last year alleging the firm was not compliant with payments data localisation rules.
Last week, WhatsApp’s global head Will Cathcart said WhatsApp was all set to roll out its payments service in India this year and that it was now in full compliance with the data localization norms.
The Supreme Court has now asked the RBI to file a response. The Supreme Court also asked the union government to make clear, within six weeks, its position on whether the company’s grievance officer should be based in India, according to the person.
WhatsApp has a California-based grievance officer who handles India-related issues. Current Indian rules do not mandate a tech company to have such an executive stationed in the country - a rule the government wants to change.