WhatsApp data: SC gives RBI 6 weeks

BENGALURU: The Supreme Court (SC) has granted six weeks to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to submit an affidavit of compliance for Whatsapp data location in the country. This comes later Kapil Sibal , lead attorney for Whatsapp , le dijo al SC el viernes que la plataforma de mensajería propiedad de Facebook cumple con las normas de data location y que presentará el informe final al National Payments Corporation of India ( NPCI ) and the RBI .

The apex court has also asked the government to clarify Whatsapp ’s stand on having a grievance officer in India, a person present in the court proceedings told TOI. As of now, Whatsapp ’s grievance officer is based out of the US.

At the beginning of the year, the Center of responsibility and systemic change ( CASC ) — a non-profit organisation — had filed a petition in the SC, challenging Whatsapp ’s compliance standards and absence of a local grievance officer here. Owing to the same, the apex court has now asked the RBI to submit the report. The development comes a week after Whatsapp ’s global head Will Cathcart told TOI that the company was 100% compliant with local data laws and that it is eager to launch a payments service for its 400 million monthly active users here.

For over a year now, Whatsapp ’s payments service has been restricted to a million users on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). Data-localisation compliance has been a major hurdle for Whatsapp before it can launch full-scale payments here.

RBI ’s representative told the SC that the compliance report will be first sent to NPCI , which could take about four weeks, and then the RBI would take another two weeks to submit the report to the SC. On both the issues of data location and local grievance officer, if the required submissions are not made within six weeks, CASC could amend its petition.

“Data localisation and grievance officer’s posting in India are two important aspects of legal compliance. The government should come with a clear cut affidavit in the Whatsapp matter, which may give a clear signal to other players,” said CASC counsel Virag Gupta.

A spokesperson of Whatsapp India said it does not have any new comment on the matter. An email sent to an RBI spokesperson did not elicit any response.

As reported by TOI in April, Whatsapp had mentioned to the court that it has identified a third-party auditor to audit its payments system for data-localisation compliance here. This was preceded by Whatsapp ’s ‘confidential revised data location plan’ to all stakeholders.

Cathcart, during his visit to India last week, met RBI and government officials in Mumbai and New Delhi, including IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. While Whatsapp has maintained it does not want to break end-to-end encryption on its platform, the issue remains a matter of continuous negotiation between the company and the government, people aware of Cathcart’s visit here said.