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Supreme Court issues notice to WhatsApp and govt: Asks why it has no grievance officer in India


The Supreme Court has issued notice to Facebook-owned WhatsApp and the Indian government asking them why the messaging app has not appointed grievance officer in India.

Unlike its parent firm Facebook and Google, which have grievance officers in the country, WhatsApp does not have the professional appointment.

Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra represented bench asked WhatsApp, Law and Justice Ministry, Finance Ministry and Information Technology Ministry to come up with a response within four weeks.

The development came after a plea sought direction to stop WhatsApp from proceeding with its payments systems unless it fully complies with RBI’s provisions. It’s worth noting that Google payments service Tez has appointed grievance executive to look after customers issue.

Petitioner advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for the Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change, said the messaging platform does not comply with a provision of mandating a Grievance Officer and other laws of India including Know Your Customer (KYC) norms.

He further argued that it must appoint a Grievance Officer, who shall address grievances of the consumers as well as coordinate with investigating agencies. And it should not be allowed to run its payment services without having office and servers in India.

The chat platform recently turned down the Indian government demand to trace the origin of messages to curb the spread of fake messages.

In a response, after the govt had asked the messaging app to trace the origin of messages, WhatsApp spokesperson said that building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of the chat platform, creating the potential for serious misuse.

Last week, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad met WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels and asked him to set up a corporate entity in India, appoint a grievance officer and find a technical solution to trace the origin of fake messages on its platform.

In India, WhatsApp has over 250 million users and almost one million people are “testing” WhatsApp’s payments service in India.

WhatsApp Payment was launched in beta in February. It is supported by some major banks in India including ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank while support for State Bank of India users will be added soon.

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